Smoked-salmon toasts make a meal with soup

Flounder, mentioned in this blog’s previous post, was just one of many fish on my childhood menu.

Chief in South Coast residents’ estimation, of course, is salmon. And the highest esteem always was awarded to my dad’s home-smoked salmon, which used to be a staple but is now scarcer with the dwindling fish runs.

So during the lean years when dad’s fishing forays are fruitless and we’ve consumed the freezer stash, we purchase the next best thing: smoked chinook from Chuck’s Seafood in Charleston. Priced at about $12 per 6.5-ounce can, this is as close as it gets to home-smoked fish prized from the waters of Coos Bay.

And when fish, canned fish at that, costs such as pretty penny, you want to showcase it with minimal manipulation and extraneous ingredients. Topping good-quality, toasted bread with smoked fish is an obvious appetizer or snack that becomes a meal paired with this soup, courtesy of Tribune News Service.

Tribune News Service photo

Creamy Cauliflower Soup With Smoked Fish Toasts

2 small or 1 large head (about 3 pounds total) cauliflower, outer leaves removed

3 medium (9 ounces total) golden potatoes, peeled and diced

1 large sweet onion, peeled and diced

2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)

1/4 cup whipping cream or creme fraiche

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Salt, to taste

Freshly ground white pepper, to taste

20 slices (each 1/4-inch thick) French baguette, about 6 ounces total

2 to 4 tablespoons olive oil

3 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 or 3 ounces smoked salmon, crumbled into large pieces

Chopped fresh chives, for garnish

Use a large knife to cut the cauliflower heads in half. Cut out tough cores and discard. Roughly chop florets. Put chopped cauliflower, potatoes, onion and garlic into a large (4 or 5-quart) Dutch oven. Add the broth. Heat to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover loosely and cook until vegetables are fall-apart tender, for 20 to 25 minutes.

Use an immersion blender to puree soup in pot. (Or puree soup in small batches in a blender.) Add the cream and cayenne; heat soup to a simmer. Season soup with the salt and pepper to taste.

While soup simmers, make toasts Heat oven to 375 F. Brush both sides of bread slices with oil and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake, turning bread slices over, until golden and crispy, for about 10 minutes.

Divided cream cheese among toasts and spread cheese while toasts are still warm. Top each toast with a few pieces of the salmon and a sprinkle of the chives.

Serve bowls of soup sprinkled with chives and accompanied by toasts.

Makes 10 cups, 6 servings.

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