North Carolina Fish Stew

From Eastern North Carolina, this recipe is an heirloom and a classic! From Cook’s Country, this recipe 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!

  • Author: Laura
  • 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


  1. 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.
  2. Add the onion slices to the pan and cook about 8 minutes until they are translucent and tender and just beginning to brown.
  3. 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.
  4. 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. 
  5. Test and adjust flavor by adding salt, pepper and hot sauce, as desired. Garnish with reserved bacon.


Keywords: North Carolina Fish Stew, Eastern North Carolina Fish stew, easy fish stew, easy fish soup, old fashioned Eastern North Carolina fish stew

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