Sunday, May 31, 2015

A Vegetable That Makes Me Feel Guilty

Photo by Sam Mills
At this very moment I have three major league zucchini staring at me on the kitchen counter.   There used to be four.  I put one out of its misery by slicing it up and frying it for a few minutes in butter.  Zucchini seem impervious to rot and if not cooked would probably last forever.

I didn’t buy these zucchini.  They were a gift from Kenny, a softball buddy of Bart’s.  I can barely grow cherry tomatoes in my pathetic garden (a gaggle of pots on my deck), but Kenny, who lives just a few miles away, raises baseball bat-size zucchini and then gives them all away.  Kenny doesn’t cook.

It’s not in me to throw away edibles, so several years ago when Kenny’s offerings began piling up, I decided to make him some soup.  I cut up some of the zucchini, a large onion and a few potatoes, added some garlic, curry powder and water and cooked it.  I poured it into a blender, pushed a button and ended up with a mixture that looked like baby food.  Surprisingly, it tasted good.  It reminded me of a very expensive bowl of soup I once ate in Paris.

I should have named my version Potage aux Légumes Verts, but in our house it’s simply Green Soup, and it’s frequently on the menu.  Kenny likes it too, which means zucchini decorate my counter all summer long.  In the winter, when Kenny’s garden is on hiatus, I’ll even buy zucchini to keep the tradition going.

                                                        Green Soup (photo by Andy Mills)
Green Soup - serves 4-6 
1 large onion
1 1/2 – 2 pounds zucchini
2-3 medium potatoes
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
1 teaspoon chopped garlic (see Mom Cooking Tip 2)
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 cups water
1 tablespoon concentrated chicken or vegetable base (Mom Cooking Tip 5) – optional 
Peel the onion and cut it into 1-inch pieces.  Wash the zucchini, trim and discard the ends and cut it into 1/2-inch slices.  Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1/4-inch slices.  
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic and stir for about 3 minutes, or until the onion begins to soften.  Add the curry powder, salt and black pepper and stir until dissolved.  
Add the zucchini, potatoes, water and chicken or vegetable base, if using.  Bring the mixture to a boil, turn down the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes can be easily pierced with a knife.  Turn off the heat, remove the lid and let cool for about 10 minutes.  
Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth.  If the mixture seems too thick, add more water, 1/2 cup at a time.  Return the soup to the pot, reheat and serve.  This soup is also good served cold.