Halibut and Saffron Soup Recipe

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Halibut and Saffron Soup ~ wine, saffron, lemon, dill and fish come together to make a healthy and delicious Scandinavian soup, the golden color is fabulous.

Halibut and saffron soup is so unique!

Saffron is such an interesting ingredient, but so hard to describe. I wish I was one of those people who can take a sip of wine and come up with ‘mossy’ or ‘muscular’ right off the bat, but I’m not. The flavor and aroma of saffron is wonderful, but  I’m at a loss to describe it. It’s officially said to have a slightly bitter, ‘hay-like’ flavor, which doesn’t really do it justice, but I can’t give you an alternative. It’s one of those times where words aren’t relevant. I love that.

It’s no secret that I love fish, and chowders and soups are some of my favorite ways to enjoy it. 

This recipe is a version of a classic Scandinavian soup. It has a base of wine, stock and cream and a generous amount of saffron to give it a distinctive flavor as well as color. I accented mine with dill.

I came across baby parsnips at the market yesterday, so they went into the soup, along with leeks, onion, and fennel. The pale vegetables provide flavor, texture, and a neutral base for the color of the saffron to shine through.

This soup isn’t thick and heavy like a chowder, but the cream gives it substance. It’s the perfect late summer early fall dish. I would have served this soup with Buckwheat Biscuits, but I was out of buckwheat flour, so I made plain biscuits. Crusty bread would be great as well.

I highly recommend this soup, and I’m definitely going to do more experimenting with fish and saffron. Salmon would work here as well, and you can vary the vegetables. This is a winner in my book, I hope you try it.

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3.69 from 16 votes

Halibut and Saffron Soup

Course Colorful, Favorites, fish, Gluten Free, Healthy, Soup
Yield 4
Author Sue Moran


  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 white onion chopped
  • 1 leek sliced
  • 1 small bulb fennel halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch baby parsnips peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups stock fish is best, I used chicken
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 big pinches saffron
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tsp tomato paste I keep a tube in the fridge
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 3/4 lb halibut fillet cut in bite sized chunks
  • 1/3 cup fresh dill leaves


  • Heat the butter in a heavy bottomed pot and saute the vegetables for about 15 minutes until they start to soften.
  • Add the wine to the vegetables, then the water, stock, bay leaves and saffron. Crush the saffron between your fingers as you add it. Season with salt and pepper and bring up to a simmer. Cook gently for about 15 minutes,
  • Add the cream, tomato paste, and lemon juice, and bring back to a boil. Check the seasoning, and then add the halibut and dill. Cover the pan and turn off the heat. The fish will gently poach in the heat of the soup. Let sit for about 15 minutes.
  • At this point you can serve the soup, or, better yet, let it cool and refrigerate it for a few hours to give the flavors a chance to develop, then reheat gently before serving. Be sure to taste it to adjust the seasonings, and throw on some fresh dill sprigs at the last minute.
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although theviewfromgreatisland.com tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.


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  • Reply
    November 11, 2019 at 5:18 pm

    I’m about to taste this soup. I made it for dinner this evening. I’m curious where the tomato paste comes in. You list it in the ingredients. but not in the instructions?

    • Reply
      November 11, 2019 at 7:11 pm

      The paste goes right in with the cream Mej.

  • Reply
    August 25, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    I bet you do love this soup. It looks fantastic! I love those huge chunks of halibut floating around in the soup.

  • Reply
    Debs @ The Spanish Wok
    August 18, 2012 at 7:53 am

    This sounds so delicious.

    You are welcome to join in my monthly food blogger event THE SOUP KITCHEN, here for entry details and current theme. New theme each month. All bloggers are welcome, hope to see you participate soon.

  • Reply
    August 18, 2012 at 8:36 am

    Fantastic. This is something we could use on our table right now – it’s just so soggy and cold out. I’m with you in loving fresh fish, and during this time of year, a saffron-laced chowder sounds heavenly. I’m bookmarking this one.

  • Reply
    Helene @ French Foodie Baby
    August 18, 2012 at 5:30 am

    This soup looks just wonderful, I’m salivating, adding it to my recipe to do list! Thanks so much 🙂

  • Reply
    Tricia @ saving room for dessert
    August 17, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    This sounds very nice Sue. It is also very beautiful – the color, textures, all make it a very intriguing bowl of deliciousness. Have a nice weekend.

  • Reply
    Ellen B Cookery
    August 16, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    Now this is a soup I’ve got to try! YUM!

  • Reply
    August 16, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    I can definitely see the saffron’s influence in that super-yellow soup! Halibut and parsnip sounds like a great, light-but-earthy combination. I will definitely have to try it!

  • Reply
    Rebecca Subbiah
    August 16, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    lovely soup bookmarked and would love to learn more Scandinavian recipes

  • Reply
    Katherine @ eggton
    August 16, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    This looks freakishly good. Oh my gosh. Seriously.

  • Reply
    August 16, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    You describe your dishes perfectly, even that elusive saffron seasoning. I always want a taste to satisfy my imaginings. The color of the soup in your light blue bowl is gorgeous. Always a visual delight visiting your kitchen.
    I see fennel in the third photo. Was that in the soup? I have 2 small bulbs and wondered what you thought of a switch out for the parsnips?

  • Reply
    August 16, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    as a huge saffron fan, this sounds tremendously delicious!

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