Posts Tagged ‘Zucchini’

Betsy’s Herbed Zucchini Soup

Monday, August 4th, 2014

zucchini basil soup web

Zucchini has arrived in these parts. This squash is much maligned because it tends to overwhelm gardeners before they can finish uttering the word “zucchini.” I have a couple of suggestions to help readers embrace zucchini and avoid feelings of inadequacy.

First, when you are doing your spring planting, don’t feel obliged to place an entire six pack of zucchini seedlings in your vegetable patch. A plant or two will do nicely. Zucchini is a friendly neighbor that likes to wander all over the garden, and it CAN take over.

Next (this is the part at which I am bad), once the zucchini gets going check it every single day and pick ruthlessly. You want delicate squash, not baseball bats.

If you do end up with giant zucchini, do what my neighbors Susan and Peter Purdy did a few years back and throw a Zucchinipalooza party. Everyone in the neighborhood brought zucchini-related foods, and we played games. Large zucchini were literally used as bats in a ball game. Strangely shaped squashes were placed in a tub for bobbing. And so on.

Finally, in addition to throwing zucchini into lots of different dishes—stir fries, soups, stews—look for zucchini recipes you can make and freeze. In a very few months, you’ll be missing this vegetable and longing for a taste of summer.

The recipe here, from my friend and former babysitter Betsy Kovacs, is eminently freezable. It’s also great fresh (hot or cold); it positively bursts with flavor.

If you don’t have the exact proportions of ingredients listed below, go with what you have. With more zucchini it will be thicker; with more stock, thinner. With more herbs it will just taste more summery.

As you can see from the video below, I made it recently on Mass Appeal. It comes together very quickly so it’s perfect for a TV appearance—or for a summer day.

zinpotweb

The Soup

Ingredients:

1 to 2 medium onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 pounds zucchini, with stems removed, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups water or stock (chicken or vegetable, depending on your taste)
1 handful basil leaves, tightly packed—or dill or parsley; your herb of choice
salt and pepper to taste
a little half and half, sour cream, or yogurt (optional)

Instructions:

In a 4-quart Dutch oven cook the onion and garlic in the oil over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until they soften, about 5 minutes.

Add the chopped zucchini and the teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 more minutes. Add the water or broth plus the herbs. Simmer the soup, partially covered, until it is tender, about 15 minutes.

Purée the soup in a blender or food processor. Remember to use caution with the hot soup; you will want to process it in batches to avoid eruptions.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Adding a little half and half to the soup or serving it with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt can give it a bit more depth. Or you may prefer leaving it as is to let the zucchini and herbs shine. Serves 4 to 6.

Catching Some Zs

Friday, September 4th, 2009

zucchini web

 
How do I love zucchini? Let me count the ways….
 
I know zucchini don’t always come in for a lot of praise. In fact, I tend to think of them as the fruitcake of summer.
 
At Christmas the fruitcake bashers jest that fruitcake is so heavy it can be used as a doorstop. In early September the jokesters snicker that country dwellers are so frustrated with their bumper crops of zucchini that as soon as the sun sets they tiptoe around and leave the things on their neighbors’ doorsteps.
 
It’s true that even one little zucchini vine can go crazy if left untended. Gardeners who forget to check their patch for a couple of days end up with vegetables the size of baseball bats instead of the tender little green gourds that inspired the Italian name “zucchini,” which means ”little squash.”
 
(Actually, in Italian the word would be “zucchine.” I hate to be overly pedantic, but I was an editor for years so I’m prone to linguistic nitpicking.)
 
If you remember to check your zucchini patch frequently, however, you’ll be rewarded with small, curvy cylinders that are highly versatile.
 
They cook quickly, especially if you just fry slices in a little butter and olive oil and toss in a few herbs and a little salt and pepper.
 
Grated zucchini can lend vitamin A and moisture to soups, sauces, breads, brownies, cakes, and casseroles.
 
You may also use zucchini to make pickles or relish and stretch summer’s bounty throughout the year.
 
Zucchini are cheap, and they’re good for you. As my grandmother used to say, “What’s not to like?”
 
So–if any of my neighbors would like to leave a few zucchini on my doorstep, I say, “Bring ‘em on!” I didn’t grow any myself this year, and I have several zucchini recipes to share with readers. Here is the first.
 
I learned to make these zucchini pancakes last year when I was working as a demo chef at Bloomingdale’s in Tysons Corner, Virginia. Pat Money, the Calphalon cookware representative, suggested that they would show off her pans nicely. They certainly did! I have changed the recipe a little from Pat’s version (a characteristic failing of mine), but I’ve kept the essence of the pancakes intact.
 
As you can see, they’re on the fattening side–so make them when you have a crowd coming over. They’ll disappear.
 
Zucchini Pancakes
 
Ingredients:
 
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 small onion, finely minced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (add a little more if you like)
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
lots of freshly ground pepper
2 medium zucchini, grated and squeezed dry in a dish towel (about 4 cups)
1 cup flour
extra-virgin olive oil as needed for frying
 
Instructions:
 
In a bowl, combine the eggs, canola oil, onion, garlic, cheese, baking powder, salt, and pepper.
 
Stir in the zucchini, followed by the flour.
 
Pour enough olive oil into the bottom of a nonstick frying pan to coat the bottom of the pan. Heat the oil over medium to medium-high heat until it shimmers.
 
Place heaping soup spoons full of the zucchini batter into the pan, about 4 to 5 at a time. Flatten them slightly and fry them until they are golden around the edges and can be turned, about 3 minutes. Turn them over and fry them until they are golden on the other side, 2 to 3 minutes longer. If you need to add a bit more oil during this process, do so.
 
Drain the pancakes on paper towels and serve them warm. Makes 25 to 30 small pancakes.
 
zucchini pancake web