Easy, Sustainable Catfish Soup for #NationalSoupMonth

There are few fish as perfect for soup as catfish, which maintains its firmness beautifully while simmering in liquid. It soaks up the flavor of broth and is a simple and satisfying winter meal when made into soup. So, for National Soup Month, 2013, I am recommending this Easy Catfish Soup, which takes less than one hour to make. That makes it perfect for weeknight dinners, too.
The background flavor of this soup is fresh, organic tomato. Although I generally try to eat locally and seasonally, I couldn’t resist these tomatoes at the market. I decided to add these to my soup along with a frozen mirepoix of diced, carrots, onions, and celery (I did mention that this soup makes up quick, right?) Along with convenient frozen soup vegetables, I used a carton of seafood stock and a bit of vegetable broth. Fresh thyme and rosemary are still growing on my front porch, despite killing frosts, so I added these herbs to the soup too.
Before adding the catfish to the broth, I sliced them into two-inch lengths and pan-fried them–a minute on each side. 
Catfish Sustainability & Nutrition

U.S. Farmed catfish is considered a “best-choice” seafood by Monterey Bay Aquarium’s “Seafood Watch,” an organization that rates seafood sustainability according to its abundance, the methods used to catch the targeted species, the protection of marine habitats and spawning areas, and the protection of non-targeted marine life (i.e. birds, dolphins, turtles). 
According to “Seafood Watch,” Farmed, channel catfish are raised in “closed, inland ponds using recirculated fresh water and fed a mostly vegetariandiet of soybeans, corn and rice.” Catfish is among the most sustainable seafood available to consumers in the U.S. (For more information, download this report by “Seafood Watch”to learn more about catfish and sustainability). Sometimes, farmed imported Basa, Swai, Tra, and Pangasius are sold as catfish. These fish are rated as a “good alternative” according to “Seafood Watch.”
The health and fitness site, LiveStrong.com, reports that two ounces of catfish “provides 20 percent of the average daily value for protein, 23 percent of the average daily value for vitamin B-12, and 14 percent of the average daily value for phosphorus.” (Read more here.) 
Along with the vegetables and fish, I think this soup is a balanced meal. Include bread or rice for a filling supper!
Recipe: Easy, Sustainable Catfish Soup

2 pounds fresh, organic whole tomatoes 

2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (plus more for pan-frying catfish)

1 12-ounce bag frozen mirepoix (diced carrots, onions, and celery)
1 32-ounce carton seafood stock
12 ounces tomato sauce (organic if possible)
1 1/2 pound catfish fillets (approximately 3), sliced into two-inch lengths
1 sprig fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon fresh, chopped rosemary (or a pinch of dried rosemary)
2 tablespoons capers
1/2 cup vegetable broth
5 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon dark miso or miso-tamari sauce (for color)
3/4 to 1 teaspoons Kosher Salt (more or less to taste)
  1. Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water until the skins begin to split. Remove the tomatoes with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool.
  2. Pour olive oil in heavy soup pot without pre-heating.
  3. Add frozen mirepoix and heat over medium-low heat. Let it simmer until the vegetables are translucent. 
  4. Pour the entire carton of fish stock into the soup pot.
  5. Peel the skin from the tomatoes, chop them roughly, and add them to the soup pot along with the tomato sauce.
  6. While the soup broth is working up to a simmer, pan-fry the catfish pieces in a 10-inch-or-larger frying pan. You may need fry the fish in two or three batches, depending upon the size of your fry pan. Use 1 tablespoon of oil for pan-frying each batch and fry for 1 minute on each side.
  7. Add the catfish to the soup pot and allow the liquid to continue simmering slowly over medium-low heat.
  8. After pan-frying the fish, pour the vegetable broth into the frying pan and reduce for three minutes. Pour reduced liquid into the soup pot.
  9. Add the fresh herbs and capers and continue to simmer (approximately 5 minutes).
  10. Add soy and miso sauces. Simmer for another 10 minutes.
  11. Adjust seasoning (with Kosher salt as needed); serve hot.
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  1. says

    Mmm … I’m thinking that, to make this dish vegan, I could use seasoned up, firm tofu instead of the catfish and use some seaweed in a veggie broth to give it that “seafood” flavor. What do you think? It looks lovely … and I’m so into soups right now. Thanks for sharing!

  2. says

    Thanks for commenting! You’re right about the firm tofu (or extra-firm tofu) as a substitute for the catfish. Seaweed, such as Kombu, in vegetable broth would indeed impart seafood flavor. Great idea!

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