Traverse City Record-Eagle

September 13, 2012

Recipe of the Week: Smoked Trout Soup


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---- — Several thousand years ago, people discovered that exposing fish to intense amounts of salt and smoke was a great way of preserving the catch for later.

Today, our smoking techniques are considerably more refined, and we do it more for flavor than as a means of preservation. And that makes it a shame more people don't think to reach for smoked fish as an effortless way to add gobs of flavor to the foods they love.

But first, a primer on smoked fish. There are two ways to smoke fish — cold and hot. Salmon, trout, haddock and mackerel are the most common choices.

In cold smoking, the fish are brined in a heavy salt solution, then exposed to cool smoke (85° F max) for up to several days, then frozen to kill parasites. Cold smoked fish — which is essentially raw — has a soft, delicate texture, an assertive saltiness and a pleasant, but not overwhelming, smoky flavor.

Hot smoked fish is more lightly brined, then smoked for a shorter time at a higher temperature (as high as 170° F), effectively cooking the fish. Hot smoking produces a fish with a more assertive smoky flavor and a meatier texture (though the lighter brine means it isn't as salty).

Both varieties often are seasoned, sometimes with just a bit of sugar, but also with black pepper, dill or other herbs.

Smoked Trout Noodle Soup

Not as strange as it sounds. Smoked trout has a meaty texture similar to chicken. And the rich, smoky flavor is the perfect match for a soup thick with noodles.

Start to finish: 30 minutes

Servings: 6

2 T. olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped

1 large yellow onion, diced

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 c. frozen peas

1 T. chopped fresh thyme

Large sprig fresh rosemary

6 c. (1½ quarts) chicken broth

2 c. elbow pasta

2 c. baby spinach

2 scallions, whites and greens, chopped

Salt and ground black pepper

8-oz. package smoked trout

In a large saucepan over medium-high, heat the oil. Add the garlic, carrots, onion, celery, peas, thyme and rosemary. Saute for 5 minutes.

Add the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Add the pasta and cook for 7 to 8 minutes, or until barely tender. Remove and discard the rosemary stem. Add the spinach and scallions and heat for 30 seconds. Season with salt and pepper.

Using a fork, flake and break up the trout into large bite-size chunks. Ladle the soup into serving bowls, then pile a bit of the trout in the center of each.

Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 320 calories; 80 calories from fat (25 percent of total calories); 9 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 35 mg cholesterol; 41 g carbohydrate; 18 g protein; 5 g fiber; 630 mg sodium.

-- The Associated Press