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Miranda Gardiner's Zanzibar Fish Soup

Miranda Gardiner is the owner of Bowcombe Boathouse and The Batman’s Summerhouse, where you can actually fish and then try the recipe yourself with your fresh catch!

My beautiful sister-in-law lusted after this soup before she climbed Mount Kilimanjaro recently (she lusted after a gorgeous chap from San Francisco, during and after her climb, but that’s another story, with a very happy ending, I might add). She ate it, loved it, climbed to the icy summit, found the recipe in a book (A Kitchen Safari), and then passed it on to me. The fantastic thing about this dish is that you don’t need any fancy ‘grown or flown in from Zanzibar’ ingredients.

Fish that will hold its shape during cooking – mullet, gurnard, pollock or similar – and home-grown mussels are all great here. The addition of a starchy carbohydrate such as rice or millet, something that can slowly sink into the soup, makes it a satisfying lunch or supper dish.

Serves 5 - 6


3 tablespoons olive oil

4 shallots, finely chopped

2 sticks celery, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, crushed

5cm-length of fresh root ginger, peeled and grated

1 red chilli

200g chopped tomatoes

600ml water

375ml dry white wine

2 bay leaves

2 strips of orange peel

A pinch of saffron

500g fresh fish (skate, bass, bream, coley, mullet, gurnard and pollock are good choices)

1kg mussels

100ml double cream

1 handful of coriander, chopped 8 spring onions, sliced


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, then add the shallots, celery, garlic, ginger and chilli.
  2. Cook over a moderate heat until soft, but do not let the mixture brown.
  3. Add the tomatoes, water, white wine, bay leaves, orange peel and saffron and bring to the boil.
  4. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Add the fish to the pot and cook, still simmering, for another 15–20 minutes
  6. Throw in the mussels and cook for 5 minutes, until the shells open; discard any that remain closed.
  7. Remove the soup from the heat, stir in the cream, coriander and spring onions, and ladle away.

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