Thursday, December 27, 2012
I impulsively bought some saltfish from the fruit and veg store at the end of my road - it was sitting on the counter and I'd always been curious about using it in cooking. After looking up several recipes for salt cod stews and soups, I gathered up a few ingredients that I had in the house and went to work. The result was a hearty yet fresh tasting soup that was permeated with a rich seafood flavor - one definitely worth making again if I spot saltfish on my grocer's shelves.
300g salt fish
200g mussels (I had the precooked, shelled version in my freezer)
1 white onion, peeled and diced
2 small carrots, peeled and diced
3 sticks of celery, trimmed and diced
55g new potatoes, diced (I left peels on)
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
a small bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley
extra virgin olive oil
1tsp dried chilli flakes
2 x 400g tins of good-quality plum tomatoes
425ml chicken stock (I used a stock cube)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
juice of 1 lemon
chunky white bread, to serve
1. If using proper saltfish, soak the filets in cold water for 24 hours, changing the water a few times during this period. This way, the fish will rehydrate and the saltiness will be removed before cooking.
2. Chop the onion, carrots, bell peppers, celery, garlic and parsley stalks. Heat a splash of olive oil in a saucepan, and add the chopped vegetables, parsley stalks and dried chilli. Sweat very slowly with the lid ajar for 15 to 20 minutes until soft, but not brown.
3. Add the tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes, then add the stock and bring back to the boil.
4. Break up any larger pieces of tomato with a wooden spoon and drop the salt cod filets into the hot soup. Simmer gently for 15 minutes, just until the fish has poached and flakes apart when prodded with a fork. Pick out any bits of skin.
5. Add the mussels and then gently fold the flakes of fish and mussels through the soup, taste and season with pepper, salt (if needed) and a little lemon juice.
6. Chop the parsley leaves and scatter over the soup. Drizzle with plenty of extra virgin olive oil. Serve with good bread to soak up the stew.