Sunday, November 25, 2012

Potato Soup with Smoked Trout


I've decided November is my favorite month. Or at least in the top three. With Thanksgiving and Veterans Day and the frigid winds that herald in nature's silent season, November is introspective, reflective, and filled with gratitude. It's a time where instead of mowing the lawn and pulling weeds, you brew a pot of tea and think about how the purpose of life is really as simple as life itself, living it fully and well every hour every day rather than any notion of an endgame or final goal. Having decided that, you release the silly thought that you ought to be shopping for bargains or painting the garage floor, and instead cozy up with that Dickens book you've always meant to read, deciding as you turn the first page that you will read for the beauty of the language rather than plot alone, and the tea is tepid when you look up, glance outside, and notice the shadows of the trees are longer against the snowy landscape, the first pinks of a North Dakota sunset tinging the sky.

Yes, I do love November. 

Potato soup is a perfect November meal with its simple, quiet dignity, yet one remembers it is through the simplest things - the seemingly routine moments - that grace most clearly shines through. The potato, the most humble of root vegetables, is simmered and pureed with pheasant stock and cream. Dark pumpernickel bread gets cubed, oiled, barely salted, then toasted in the oven to make croutons. Morsels of smoked trout from a bounty of fish in northern Manitoba last spring tops it all, with a dash of dill. A chilled dark beer accompanies the meal, a lovely balance of flavors and temperatures and textures all dancing on your palate, and you feel nothing but thankfulness for the beauty of the moment, for the nourishment of the meal, for the warmth of your kitchen, and most of all for the loved ones at your side. 

Potato Soup with Smoked Trout
Adapted from The Art of Living According to Joe Beef, by two Montreal chefs/regular Joe kinda guys. (Beth's bucket list item #29: Visit Montreal and order poutine.) Clearly, you can substitute chicken broth for the pheasant stock. If you can't find smoked trout, smoked salmon would be wonderful here too, or even some good bits of ham could sub in. 

2 lbs. potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" pieces (about 6 medium potatoes)
About 3 cups pheasant stock (more if you like a thinner soup)
2 cups whipping cream
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
2 Tbls. butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 lb. smoked trout fillets, skin removed, flesh flaked
Pumpernickel croutons and dill, for garnish

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the potatoes over moderate heat until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain well in a strainer, then just keep the potatoes in the strainer with a lid over them. 

Wipe out the pot. Add the stock, cream and garlic, and bring to a simmer. Cook over moderately low heat until the garlic is very tender, about 8 minutes. Add the potatoes, then puree either using an immersion blender or pureeing in batches in a blender. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls and top with trout, croutons and dill. 

1 comment:

Jeff said...

Nice November analogy!