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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Salt Cod Soup with Angel Hair Chile

Salt cod (morue salée) is not something you should take lightly.
Salting cod is a method used often in Portugal to preserve it.  In addition to preserving the fish, it helps it keep a wonderful meaty texture once it's been rehydrated and cooked.  You must not just "wing it" for cooking.  I tried that and realized my mistake.  To re-animate the dry salted fish, it needs to go through a soaking and rinsing process that can 12-24 hours depending on how dry it is.  Once you get paste that, it is quite a treat.  A traditional Portugese use is in Bacalhau, a baked emulsion of salted cod, olive oil, and potatoes.  I wanted to go for something soupy.. and I was not disappointed..
Serves 3
300g salt cod, soaked and rinsed during at least 24 hours
1 extra large handful cauliflower florets
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 onion, diced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1/2 serving pan fried brussel sprouts
3 cups chicken broth
few pinches angel hair chile (or chile powder)
lots of fresh cracked pepper
please no salt!
1.  Make sure not to skip on soaking and rinsing time on that salt cod... if you do, it will be inedible.  Remove from soaking water and cut into pieces.
2.  Heat the oil in a pan and add the onions.  Cook until translucent, then add the carrots.
3.  Cook, stirring for a few minutes until things start to stick to the bottom of the pan.  Add in the cod, cauliflower, and broth.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 15 minutes.
4.  Now comes the creamy part.  Using an immersible hand blender, give it 3 or 4 pulses.  This will thicken the soup and give it a creamy texture without the addition of actual cream.  I like my soups chunky, so I didn't blend it too much.
4.  Add the peas, pepper, pan fried brussel sprouts, and angle hair chile.  Simmer for another 5 minutes.  Taste and add more water if it's too salty (which you shouldn't have to do if you respected the soaking time).

Serve hot

This rather comforting and filling soup is actually quite healthy.  I was going for more of a chowder-style soup which is generally full of flour and cream to get it thick, and this came out chowder-like but without all those extra fillers.  I am no longer afraid of using salt cod.
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