IRISH WATERCRESS SOUP WITH FINNAN HADDIE (about nine cups, for six)
a ½ pound boiling potato
2 cups chopped onion
¾ stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
a ¾ pound piece center-cut finnan haddie (smoked haddock, available at some fish markets and specialty food shops)
1 cup milk
3 bunches watercress, rinsed and coarse stems discarded (about 6 cups sprigs)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- In a kettle cook the potato, peeled and diced, and the onion in 4 tablespoons of the butter over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened.2. While the vegetables are cooking, put the finnan haddie in a deep skillet just large enough to hold it, add the milk, the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and 2 cups water and bring the liquid to a skimmer over moderate heat. Turn the finnan haddie and cook it, covered, at a bare simmer for 3 minutes. Transfer the finnan haddie with a slotted spoon to a plate.3. To the kettle add the fish poaching liquid and 2 cups water and simmer the mixture, covered, until the potatoes are soft. Stir in the watercress and simmer the soup, uncovered, for 3 minutes. In a blender puree the soup in batches until it is smooth, return it to the kettle and stir in the lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. The soup and the finnan haddie may be prepared 1 day in advance and kept covered separately and chilled.4. Heat the soup, stirring, until it is hot, ladle it into heated bowls and garnish each serving with some of the finnan haddie, flaked.
NOTE: If finnan haddie is not available, replace one cup of water with clam stock.