Parihuela (Fish Soup)


Parihuela (Fish and Shellfish Soup)

“Worries go down better with soup.”  A Proverb

My husband and I have this little arrangement, I cook and he cleans up after the meal. For the most part, it works well, especially when I am cooking one of our regular meals where I am not all that creative. You know, something that will keep us alive for another day. BUT…if I decide to make something new with lots of ingredients it is another story. We regularly enact the same scenario:

Leo, “Oh Lord, look at this kitchen! It is a mess!

Joyce, “How was the dinner?”

End of discussion.

I have to admit, I come by it naturally, since my mother was the same. All of us kids, who had to clean up after Sunday dinner, dreaded when Mother cooked. She dirtied every pot and dish in the house. My father on the other hand, cleaned as he went along, leaving us little to do.

When I cooked Parihuela, tonight, I made a royal mess! The big problem in my defense was I was trying to make a recipe that did not fit into my largest pot. It worked well until it was time to add the fish. At this point, I had to transfer half of the soup to another pot. I was rushing and well, below you can see the results. The soup was bubbling on the stove and popped all over the place, too. Anyway, I divided up the fish and put some in each pot. We ate one pot of fish soup and I refrigerated the other half for the next day. When I wasn’t looking, Leo took a picture of the mess. He said, “Let’s let people see what I am talking about on your blog.” Oh well, it is what it is!    …. “How was the dinner?”


I did feel sorry for him though because that was too much, so I cleaned the stove and counters while he did the dishes. Even I was appalled by the mess.


The reason I was making this soup is we like soup so much, so I decided to look up the recipe of Parihuela, an Ecuadorian fish soup that we had eaten at a local Ecuadorian Restaurant. It is another soup we love. Again I went on line and found several recipes. They were all pretty much the same, with the exception of one ingredient here or there, so I picked one from It called for Aji peppers and paste, which I cannot find at the local supermarket. Leo and I drove into Hartford to a large Latino Supermarket, one we have been to before. As we wandered around the supermarket, smells were calling our name. We followed our nose and found a small Food Court of sorts. It had Columbian, Peruvian, and Mexican food to choose from. We found ourselves stopping at the Peruvian restaurant to take in the sights and smells. In my internet searches regarding Ecuador, I have come to realize that many foods are common to Columbia, Ecuador and Peru, not so surprising considering the geography. We noticed they had Parihuela soup, the soup I was planning to make the next day, so we got some for lunch anyway. We don’t mind having the same thing a few times in a row. The soup comes in a bowl big enough for two, so we shared. We are finding large portions a theme when we eat at Ecuadorian Restaurants and now the same at the Peruvian. It did occur to me that maybe it’s just the senior citizen syndrome I use to laugh at when the couples used to share. My sister is 10 years older than I, so I remember when she and her husband entered “the phase”. Good God, I am officially a Senior Citizen. (Don’t tell, I’ve been one quite a while, although I am not sure what the official age is, but I know I am well into it). Speaking of the Senior Citizen Syndrome, some of my contemporaries have been dragging us the “Early Bird Specials”. What more can I say about that.

The next day after shopping for the aji peppers and paste for the Parihuela soup, we went to the local fish market to make sure the fish was fresh. If I was complaining about the cost of the tuna in the other soup recipe I made, this collection of fish cost $36.00. (I just realized, yapping about the cost of things is another part of the Senior Citizen Syndrome. I never used to do that. I assume it’s part of the Social Security reality, living on less. Hence, Ecuador). It will be nice to go to the beach and get the fish fresh off the boats, hopefully at more reasonable prices.

Recipe below:


  • A few  heads and bones of fish
  • 600 g (1.5 lbs) white fish fillets such as snapper cut into large pieces
  • 35 g(¼ cup) plain flour
  • salt and pepper
  • 80 ml (⅓ cup) vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 185 m l(¾ cup) white wine
  • 3 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tbs paprika
  • 1 tbs chilli pepper paste (aji panca)
  •  3 dried yellow chillies (aji mirasol)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1bay leaf
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander, plus extra, to serve
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley, plus extra, to serve
  • 16 mussels, cleaned
  • 8 clams
  • 300 g ,1/2-3/4 lb calamari sliced into ½ cm thick rings
  • 200 g (1/2 lb shrimp
  • 200 g(  ½ lb) shrimp, peeled, tails intact
  • 8 scallops


Place the fish heads and bones in a stock pot and cover with 2½ liters (10 cups) cold water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain.

Place the flour in a bowl and season well with salt and pepper. Place a large frying pan over high heat. Add the oil and fry the fish, in batches, for 1 minute on each side until golden but not cooked through. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium and tip out all but 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the onion to the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes until the onion begins to soften, then add the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the tomato, paprika, hot chili paste, dried yellow chilies, bay leaf and oregano. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until aromatic and the mixture starts to darken. Increase heat to high, pour in the wine and cook for 2 minutes to cook off the alcohol. Add the fish stock, coriander and parsley. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to a simmer and add the mussels, clams and calamari. Cook for 1 minute, add the unpeeled prawns and reserved fish and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the peeled prawns and scallops, remove from the heat and allow to poach for 2-3 minutes. Season to taste.

Credit to:

Serve immediately with a squeeze of lemon and extra herbs.Note: I would add a side of rice so each person can put some rice into their soup bowl. Actually, this is what they did at the Ecuadorian Restaurant. Don’t forget a wedge of lime for each person to squeeze into each bowl. It adds the necessary final touch. I hope you will try to make this recipe or try the soup at a restaurant. Another keeper!

What is your favorite soup?


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