Grandma Fely’s Tilapia Soup

From Lita Weidenbach

When my mother’s beloved rosebushes withered away after many years, she tenderly set into that hallowed ground another plant that she admired just as much—the tomato! Tomatoes, she would say to me with enthusiastic conviction as we watched the little seedlings grow, to add flavor and sweetness to any dish! And so she did, picking the red ripened fruit and tossing it into her salads, stews, and soups. Ah, the fish soup with those fragrant bits of tomato, onion, and ginger! No other dish would so clearly remind me of my parents’ nurturing comfort—the fresh fish caught by my patient father and lovingly prepared with my mother’s delicious tomatoes, sometimes right away over an open fire as we children played at the beach. Accompanied by a large pot of rice, fish soup went a long way towards feeding a growing family. It was a simple dish, but a difficult recipe to pin down precisely as my mom’s usual measurement was “just do it according to what you want it to taste like”. Despite the many fish dishes I have tried, I still like my mom’s basic fish soup best. How sweet is the broth and how much sweeter is the memory of the fisherman and the cook behind it! Is it no wonder that I married a fish farmer and grow tomatoes of my own?

2 lbs. of tilapia cut into large pieces
2 medium, ripe tomatoes cut into wedges
1 in. ginger root, peeled & sliced thin
½ teaspoon salt
½ medium onion sliced

Mash tomato wedges to release the juices and mix with ginger and salt. Spread onion slices in bottom of a large pan. Next, layer fish pieces. Add enough water to barely cover the fish. Pour tomato mixture evenly over the fish. Simmer, covered, for approximately 20 minutes. Add more salt (or pepper) to taste. Serves 3-5 people.

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