Monday, July 19, 2010

The Summer Zucchini Problem

This time of year there is invariably a bumper crop of zucchini, and I often tire of zucchini in butter, zucchini ice cream, grilled zucchini, zucchini marmalade, and all the variations of those recipes. So, to help consume more of the squash coming out of the garden--since it is effing perfect right now--here is a recipe for a light, flavorful squash soup. You could substitute any mild summer squash, as well as some of the monster squash that invariably hide in the squash patch (WHERE DO THEY HIDE?!?!), but medium sized sweet zucchini work fantastic.

Pan Fried Zucchini Soup
Makes two modest sized bowls of soup, 110 calories per bowl. Serve as an appetizer or side dish.
  • 2 medium sized zucchini, chopped into pieces.  About 3 to 3 1/2 cups
  • 1/4 small yellow onion, minced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 of a head of dill
  • Juice from 1/2 of a large, sunny lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Hot sauce or salsa to garnish

Take two medium sized, or three smaller zucchini and cut them into pieces. Salt them with one teaspoon of salt, and add the oil to a hot pan. When the oil is good and thin, add the zucchini and diced onion. Carefully make sure that as many as possible as laying face down, like after a late night college 'get together', and don't touch them for several minutes. If you move the pieces around they will not brown as well as they can.

After an infuriating three or four minutes trying to hold yourself back from moving the zucchini around, go ahead and check one of the pieces. If it has a nice looking crust, not unlike those croissants that Jacques Pepin occasionally delivers in person to food Bloggers like myself, flip all the zucchini.

See, that's what I'm talking about. Not burnt, cause that would be nasty, but a nice dark brown. Think crusty french bread. Think creme brulee. Think baked Alaska...

Wait, I think I'm making myself way too hungry.

Anyway, when they look nice and pan fried, add the dill, lemon juice, cardamom, and cinnamon. Give it a good stir, make sure the heat is good and high, and add 1 cup of water. Immediately cut the heat. Cut the heat I said!

What this is doing is softening the squash the rest of the way without turning it into mush. You could use some sort of stock instead of water and it would be even better, but for this recipe the flavor of the zucchini really shines.

After the bubbling subsides, blend or puree in the manner of your choice. A stick blender is shown here, but feel free to use a food processor, giant mortar and pestle, blender, or indentured servant. They all work well. Taste the soup, adjust salt, and serve perhaps bruschetta made with single source, single vine, heritage/heirloom/organic/free-range tomatoes and a nice Chianti. Not the one that you buy with the straw basket attached to the bottom of the bottle, but an actual real Italian wine.

Not this one!

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