Fish subs nicely in St. Patrick’s Day dish

With St. Patrick’s Day nearly upon us, our minds often turn to corned beef and cabbage.

This recipe was inspired by that tradition, but swaps out the corned beef in favor of smoked fish in a satisfying savory broth.

Smoked fish happens to be one of my favorite “cheating” ingredients. Like bacon, it is a single ingredient that adds outsized oomph to any dish.

Unlike bacon, smoked fish has no saturated fat. Add even a little bit of it and suddenly the dish becomes the essence of comfort food and your guests think you’re a culinary genius.

In Ireland, they like to smoke mackerel, whitefish, salmon and haddock.

Smoked haddock actually originates in Scotland, not Ireland, but the Irish have pulled it into the family circle. Me, too.

Hearty potato, cabbage and smoked fish soup

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 large leek, white and green parts, medium chopped (about 2 cups)

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice

2 cups 1 percent milk

½ teaspoon dried thyme

4 cups shredded Napa or savoy cabbage

½ pound smoked fish fillets (salmon, whitefish, haddock or mackerel), skin discarded, coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Thinly sliced scallions, to garnish

Smoked paprika, to garnish

In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the leek and cook, stirring, until very soft but not colored, about 10 minutes.

Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Increase the heat to high, add the broth in a stream, whisking, and bring to a boil.

Add the potatoes, milk and thyme, then bring the mixture to a simmer. Cover partially and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are just tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

Stir in the cabbage and simmer until tender, about 3 minutes.

Add the fish and lemon juice and cook just until the fish is heated. Season with salt and pepper.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with scallions and a sprinkle of paprika.

Makes 4 servings. Per serving: 360 calories; 100 calories from fat (28 percent of total calories); 11 g fat (6 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 70 mg cholesterol; 38 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 9 g sugar; 26 g protein; 380 mg sodium.

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