Creamed salt cod and roast garlic soup (Zuppa di baccalà mantecato)


  • Serves 4 people

  • 1 kg salt cod (see note)
  • 35 gm (¼ cup) plain flour
  • 20 gm (¼ cup) parmesan, finely grated
  • 240 ml olive oil
  • 1 litre (4 cups) milk
  • 2 heads garlic, roasted (see note)
  • To serve: truffle oil
  • Sofrito
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 white onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 8 anchovy fillets
  • 1 cup (loosely packed) parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
01   Soak cod in cold water for 48 hours, changing the water every 6 hours until the salt is purged and flesh is soft. Carefully remove skin and bones and discard.
02   For sofrito, heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat, add onions and garlic and cook for 20 minutes or until onions are soft and lightly golden. Add anchovies and parsley, reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until anchovies have dissolved. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
03   Combine flour and parmesan in a bowl. Cut cod fillet into 5cm pieces and dust with flour mixture, then spread half the sofrito over the flesh-side of half the pieces, sandwich with remaining fish and place in a large, heavy-based saucepan, scatter with remaining sofrito and drizzle with 100ml oil. Add milk, cover and cook for 2 hours over low heat, shaking pan occasionally, until the fish falls apart and the liquid has reduced to one-third, then drain, reserving liquid.
04   Process cod pieces and garlic in a food processor, add remaining olive oil or enough to form a smooth consistency. Add enough cooking liquid to cod mixture to form a soup-like consistency. Pass through a fine sieve. Season to taste. Makes 4 cups.
05   Return to a clean saucepan and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat, without boiling, until hot. Ladle into bowls and serve immediately, drizzled with truffle oil.
Note Salt cod, also known as baccalà, is available from Italian, Spanish and Portuguese delicatessens. To roast garlic, preheat oven to 200C. Place garlic, unpeeled, on an oven tray, drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast for 20 minutes or until golden and soft. Squeeze garlic from skins and place in a bowl.
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