This simple but super-tasty Eastern North Carolina Fish Stew has EVERYTHING – tender fish fillet, crispy bacon, hearty broth, and – BONUS! -an egg on top!
We all “pay our dues” in life. You know, the monetary dues to get into a club. Or the hours we practice to hone our craft. Or that first job designed to get to the one we really want. And, truth be told, dues are necessary. Because they teach us both the knowledge and skills we need to get to where we want to be. And this gives us the credibility we all
mistakenly think wish we had at the start of our journey. Once, I paid my dues in North Carolina, where I worked as a Medical Sales Rep. Definitely not bad gig. But at that time in my life, I would say I was pretty high on the Introvert scale. (As opposed to now – I call myself a “closet Extrovert”, someone who is extroverted inside, and really wants to be that way. But for whatever reason, just cannot.)
So, here’s what happened when I would cold call an office for the first time. More often than not, my “Good Morning” was most often greeted with “You’re not from here!” Why, yes, that’s correct. I’m from Indiana. Could I please see Dr. Smith? After a time, I got beyond wanting to just run out of the office. And I would just sit and wait to see Dr. Smith. If only I’d had some of this Eastern North Carolina Fish Stew in my hands. Because, just the aroma wafting out of the dish would cause them to not even hear my Midwestern accent.
This North Carolina Fish Stew contains all the goodness I found in North Carolina. Wonderful seafood, crispy pork, and friendly, warm comfort of a tasty, rich, and hearty broth. All that and a fresh egg on top! It’s a classic dish from the Eastern part of the state. And it is thought to be a way to use the catch of the day, most often a white fish. When combined with ingredients always on hand, it creates something truly special.
Various incarnations of the recipe involve layering all of the ingredients, then boiling it for a bit (45-60 minutes) and serving. But if you were to Google “North Carolina Fish Stew”, you would see the main ingredients are always the same. Only the preparation varies a bit. Ultimately, I went with the variation developed by Cook’s Country, and included some extra spice from a couple of other recipes I found.
In the end, this North Carolina Fish Stew recipe produced 8 hearty servings of delicious stew in just under an hour (much of that time simmering). And, with just a few ingredients. Just one taste and you’ll know, you’ve paid your dues and moved on to right where you want to be – eating this comforting stew!
So, if you love soups, be sure to check out all of my soup and stew recipes by clicking HERE.
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North Carolina Fish Stew
From Eastern North Carolina, this recipe is an heirloom and a classic! Naturally it contains the two food groups North Carolina is famous for: seafood and pork. Together, in this soup, they are magical!
So easy to put together, just an hour to make and you have super-flavorful soup with white fish, potatoes, and bacon, all swimming in the most delicious tomato broth, all with a lovely poached egg on top!
- Prep Time: 10 min
- Cook Time: 45 min
- Total Time: 55 min
- Yield: 6–8 servings 1x
- Category: Stews and Soups
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: American
- 1/2 lb. (6 strips) Thick-Cut Bacon
- 2 Medium or 1 Large Yellow Onion, peeled, halved, and sliced into 1/4” half-moons
- 6 cups Water + More, as desired
- 6 oz. Tomato Paste
- 1 t Red Pepper Flake
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 1 1/2 lb Red Potatoes, sliced 1/4” thick
- 1 1/2 lb Thick Cut white fish fillet – cod works well
- 8 eggs
- (optional) 1-2 tsp Hot Sauce, such as Frank’s or Crystal
- Salt & Pepper
- Heat a heavy soup pot over Medium heat. Cut the bacon strips into 1” sections, and place in the pot to render the fat. Allow the bacon to crisp. Remove from the pan, leaving the fat.
- Add the onion slices to the pan and cook about 8 minutes until they are translucent and tender and just beginning to brown.
- To the onions, add 1-2 teaspoons salt, 1 tsp black pepper, the red pepper flake and the 6 cups water. Stir in the Tomato paste. Add the sliced potatoes, and turn heat up to Medium-High. When the soup begins to simmer, wait 10 minutes.
- While simmering, cut the fish fillet into large (2”x2”x2”) chunks. They should be big and thick. After the 10 minutes has passed, add the fish to the soup. Then, cracking the eggs, add 1 at a time to the soup. Cover for 15 minutes. This should be enough time to cook the fish and poach the eggs.
- Test and adjust flavor by adding salt, pepper and hot sauce, as desired. Garnish with reserved bacon.
- Serving Size: 1/7 Recipe
Keywords: North Carolina Fish Stew