Two days ago, my husband came home with a big smile and a $7 smoker from Goodwill. We just moved into an apartment with a balcony (which we are thrilled about! small victories) so we’ve had our eye on outdoor cooking. Then yesterday, he bought some fillets of cod (he almost never buys fish). I looked up a brine recipe, soaked those fillets for 30 min, and we put them on the smoker. The result? VERY SALTY FISH. Lesson learned. But another result was this beautiful smoke flavor that is irreproducible any other way. We cooked it very nicely for complete newbies, actually. The centers were still tender and white, while the edges were golden, chewy, and extra smoky.
So this evening, I thought, what should we do with extremely salty but delightful smoked fish?
I ended up combining a few smoked fish soup recipes and made this filling but-not-heavy potato-based soup with a beautiful smoke aroma.
I started by poaching the fish to make a fish stock. In my cast-iron skillet, I heated a little bit of olive oil and laid one fillet of smoked cod in along with a stalk of celery, some parsley, a bay leaf, and a teaspoon peppercorns. I poured 3 cups of water and 1 cup of white wine into the skillet (I added more liquid because, again, my smoked cod was VERY SALTY). I simmered this for about 3-4 minutes and turned off the heat and let it sit covered for 10 minutes. Nothing too exact, I was just doing other things.
I then strained off the liquid and was left with a fragrant golden broth that I set aside. I also shredded the cod with two forks.
In the meantime, I had some boiling water going in a saucepan and I peeled and diced 5 small/med potatoes and softened them in the water.
Then I finely sliced 2 small onions, 3 stalks of celery, and minced 3 cloves of garlic. Once the potatoes were soft, I drained them, rinsed out my saucepan, and heated 2 tablespoons of butter and a little bit of olive oil, just for good luck. I threw in my onions, celery, and garlic, and cooked them until softened and translucent.
Then I stirred in 2 tablespoons of flour and made sure I kept stirring stirring stirring so that the flour was mixing in with the vegetables and starting to brown, but wasn’t sticking to the bottom of the pot. When it looked like it was just getting brown, I poured in my poaching liquid from earlier. As soon as this was simmering, I added potatoes and let that cook for 10 minutes. I also added some dried thyme.
At this point, the soup was looking milky and it smelled pretty good. The potatoes were soft and getting grainy. I took out about half the potatoes and mashed them in a bowl and put them back in the pot.
Then, I added the shredded smoked cod – so salty and smoky…
I also added a cup of milk. I brought this back up to a simmer and called it a day.
I don’t normally make creamy-potatoey soups, but this was a lot of fun to make, and it was so satisfying knowing that the aromatic deep flavor came from something home-smoked on our balcony. With hickory chips.
We ate this with some leftover baguette that I had baked the night before – the little crostinis went perfectly with the soup!
By the way (and I was so pleased about this), I polished off our celery, parsley, milk, wine, and potatoes for this. We just moved and our supplies were low, so it felt good to spontaneously try something new and find everything I needed in the fridge. Barely.