The Best Fish Soup in Norway 100.000 Portions Sold at Fisketorget in Stavanger

Fisketorget in Stavanger serves the best fish soup in Norway! This combined seafood restaurant and fish market, which seems to have been accidentally overlooked by both the Michelin Guide and the White Guide for years, is run by the young, passionate, and talented chef Karl Erik Pallesen. I recently rated Fisketorget among the 10 best restaurants in Stavanger, and it’s probably the eatery I have been to most often in the capital of South-Western Norway.

Fisketorget at Vågen in Stavanger
Fisketorget at Vågen in Stavanger

100.000 portions in 4 years

“We’ve sold 100.000 portions of this soup since we opened a little more than four years ago,” Pallesen revealed as he served us our sharing portion in a big bowl. “In the high season we sell 150 liters per day easily, and about 50 liters in the off-season.” I had to ask: “What about during the Gladmat-festival?” Karl-Erik though about it for a second. “Probably 300 liters a day!”

The famous fish soup
The famous fish soup

Fresh seafood is exclusive and limited

We were in Stavanger to eat our way through the city, and Fisketorget was an obvious choice for lunch. It was a busy day both in the restaurant (Vågen) and by the seafood counter (Torjå). It’s wonderful to see that the locals make good use of Fisketorget, which, in fact, is an exclusive and rare treasure these days. Despite being a fishing nation, it has become increasingly difficult to get hold of fresh seafood in Norway almost regardless of where you live. Most grocery stores do not sell fresh seafood, and even if they have a fresh food counter the fish is more than likely to have been frozen at some point. Pallesen, on the other hand, gets his produce straight from the fishing boats.

Oysters with tapioca pearls, jalapenos, green tabasco, green tea & ponzu.
Oysters with tapioca pearls, jalapenos, green tabasco, green tea & ponzu.

Thus, the menu in the eatery is also based on the catch of the day which the fishermen bring to the harbor of Stavanger every morning. It doesn’t get more local and seasonal than that! Our meal started off with a plate of oysters. Dressed in tapioca pearls with a ponzu sauce that included jalapenos, green tabasco, and green tea. Flavors of herbs and ocean, acidic with a spicy note, but without overpowering the taste of the salty ocean oyster.

The best fish soup in Norway

Obviously, the content of the fish soup is not the same every day either. Catch of the day on this particular February afternoon was two types of codfish, salmon, and shrimps. While the soup contained some classic ingredients like root vegetables, that’s where the traditional style ended. The secret to this being the best fish soup in Norway is the texture and consistency. First of all, the soup was light and airy, while also being creamy and rich. It was neither too thick nor runny and watery. Both the pieces of fish and shrimps had a good bite to them, with a clean and slightly sweet flavor. Additionally, crispy crumbles of bread were added to the soup just before serving. Miraculously, they did not immediately soak but instead added crunch to every bite. Lastly, the soup was topped with delicious parsley oil and freshly cut chives, which added both flavor and color. Simple perfection.

We got visited by NRK Rogaland for a short radio interview
We got visited by NRK Rogaland for a short radio interview

Self-service herring platter

I am glad we only shared a portion of fish soup because that wasn’t even the main course of this meal. Next up was a huge platter of herring in various dressings, served with an abundance of different garnish and sides. New potatoes with butter and chives, pickled red onions, sour cream, egg, radish, salad, cress, and finally cured egg yolk and horseradish that we could shave on top. Quite traditional ingredients, but with a modern presentation which added an extra element of fun to the meal. Restaurant manager Martin Apelskog chose to pair this dish with both beer and Norwegian aquavit schnapps. A very good idea!

Just my type of dessert. Creamy, rich and acidic at the same time, with lots of contrasting textures.
Just my type of dessert. Creamy, rich and acidic at the same time, with lots of contrasting textures.

We ended another excellent meal at Fisketorget with a dessert right up my alley. A fresh cream cheese combined with acidic berries and salty, caramelized chocolate. Sweet and salty – creamy and crunchy. During the meal, we even squeezed in time for a live radio interview with NRK Rogaland, who had caught word that the food blog of the year was exploring Stavanger. Thanks for the chat!

Torjå – fresh seafood every day
Torjå – fresh seafood every day

Where did you eat the best fish soup ever? Please share in a comment below.

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