Portuguese Haddock Soup

Portuguese Haddock Soup 

Today finds me in the middle of a cooking blitz and it's not all going to plan.  Last week I thought I'd make oxtail soup. The spouse and I had the tails freezing in preparation for two recipes (The Soup Book's oxtail soup and oxtail braise from Nigel Slater's Appetite) but as I was browsing through The Soup Book I noticed that I haven't made too many fish soups; in fact, I've made only three out of the thirty-two in the Fish and Shellfish section. So I decided to make a fish soup and the Portuguese haddock caught my eye. Its ingredients include cavolo nero/kale/Savoy cabbage, onion, garlic, potato, milk and smoked haddock fillet. The spouse duly did the shopping, coming home with a Savoy cabbage and haddock fillet, the latter bought at Feeney's Fish (see blog of 14th August). Because there was plenty of cabbage and twice the weight of haddock needed, I decided to make double the quantity. The plan was to freeze the soup that wasn't eaten, but I realised too late that this soup can't be frozen once the fish has been added.

I spent a good deal of time this morning preparing the ingredients for the soup and as the chopped cabbage looked very bulky, I thought I would use two big cooking pots (or dekshees, as my father called them). This is probably where I started to go wrong. The first step of the recipe involves sauteeing the onion and garlic before adding the potato and milk (step 2). My second mistake was not covering the potato and milk in either dekshee with 2-3cm of water. Oops! Then I decided that both batches would fit in the one dekshee. Having transferred one batch into the bigger dekshee, I added more water and let it heat up before adding the haddock. The completed soup was quite tasty but a little watery. Still, it's one more fish soup made and my third recipe by Marie-Pierre Moine (see blogs of 5th June and 24th July). 

Someone in my house (no soubriquets will be used to protect the guilty party) appeared down in the kitchen for breakfast while I was eating my soup for lunch. His gelled hair was sticking out in more directions than I would ever have imagined possible and his eyes were sunken. I offered to make him breakfast and he said, "I'll have what you're having there." I asked him was he sure he wanted haddock and cabbage, to which he replied, "Perhaps not." So, tea and dry toast it was!

What about the honey, mummy?

This morning's and the early afternoon's cooking blitz has included making the oxtail braise and baking something for the return of the younger offspring from Cub camp. Baking for their return is something I like to do for my boys - I hope they recognise it as a sign of my love for them (the spouse - an indulgent and loving father - does the driving and organising). I have made yoghurt and honey muffins using a recipe in Martha Day's Baking.  All very healthy ingredients - only a tiny amount of butter, clear honey (I used the last of the lavender honey I bought at the farmers' market in Marlay Park), plain yoghurt, egg, lemon, plain and wholemeal flour and nutmeg. But the piece de resistance (sorry, I don't know how to put in the accents) of today's blitz is the oxtail braise. As I type, the aromas from the ingredients - the "ballsy" red wine (Slater's word, which I used when asking for advice from "Evelyn" in the wine shop we frequent), the meat, the onions, garlic, carrots, celery, bay leaves and orange peel - are triumphing around the kitchen. I can't wait for dinnertime. 

I received a notice about the County Dublin Beekeepers' Association Honey Show earlier today.  It takes place on Saturday, 6th November in Christ Church Hall, Rathgar, from 10.30am to 4pm. Unfortunately, I'll be away that weekend, so I'll be missing the competitions, honey, cakes, mead (the spouse and I made mead once, many years ago), candles, biscuits, etc.


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