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The small-but-storied nation of Greece is nearly surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea, making fresh seafood an easy and inexpensive option. A few native fish soups like psarosoupa have been prepared for centuries as a way for fishermen to utilize the catches they could not sell at market. This soup has evolved to incorporate both rice and potatoes, along with a medley of carrots, celery, onion and broth, made slightly acidic with lemon juice.
Psarosoupa, like its Greek cousin kakavia, began with fishermen — and the communities that supported them — eating fish that would not sell. The types of fish that work best for soups, however, were a general focus of species like red snapper, bass, halibut, grouper, trout and cod. Generally, the meatier the pieces of fish, the better they will hold up in the soup and the less likely they will overcook.
Many fishermen make fish soups like psarosoupa while still at sea. The fish is fresher than ever at this point, and a single stove top burner or hot plate is all they need. Many chefs begin the soup by placing a pot on the stove and getting some oil as hot as possible, quickly searing the thick chunks of fish on all sides before the actual soup starts taking shape. Other chefs just poach the fish pieces in the soup.
For every pound of fish pieces put in psarosoupa, 4 cups (900 ml) of water should be poured into the pan. The heat should be lowered to a simmer after the pot starts to boil. When the fish is nearly cooked through, the pieces should be removed from the fish stock and set aside. Otherwise, they will overcook while the other ingredients are still cooking.
Into the fish stock goes diced potatoes, chopped carrots and celery, and minced onions. Once these ingredients have cooked for 15 or 20 minutes, the fish goes back in, often with some rice. Some cooks use potatoes or rice, but many use both. When the rice and potatoes are nearly cooked through, diced tomatoes and olive oil are added, along with salt and pepper to taste. Before serving the psarosoupa, the oil and tomatoes are typically allowed to simmer with the soup for at least five minutes more to combine the flavors. When the heat goes off and the serving spoon comes out, about 0.25 cup (59 ml) of lemon juice for 8 cups (1.8 liters) of soup, gives the final dish a light, citrus-tinged flavor.
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