I love zucchini! It's an under-appreciated vegetable, for sure. Maybe that is because it tends to overtake people's backyard gardens and produce an abundance that you can't make a dent in, no matter how many loaves of zucchini bread you make. But, I guess I have a thing for underdog vegetables.
A few days ago I was visiting my friend (you know, the one with the chickens) and she offered me some leftover soup for lunch. I never turn down a free lunch, and I love to try new soups. This one is going straight into the recipe box- the flavor was perfect, the creaminess lent it a satisfying richness, and the zucchini made me feel like I was eating something reasonably healthy. A small cup was the perfect amount for a light lunch.
I asked my friend for the recipe, so she sent it on over:
From Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant:
3-4 leeks, rinsed well and chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
3-4 medium zucchini, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
1 tablespoon dried tarragon (Editor's note- I would immediately think that I'd want to use fresh, but I asked Alia and she said she used dried, and it tasted fantastic, so carry on, y'all- maybe garnish with some fresh tarragon on top if you're feeling crazy?)
1-1 1/2 teaspoons ground fennel seeds
freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons flour
3 cups vegetable stock
1 cup heavy cream
In a medium soup pot, on medium heat, saute the leeks and onions in the olive oil and butter until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. (Editor's note, again- 10 minutes? That seems like a really long time. It really only takes like 2 or 3 minutes tops to sweat some onions.) Stir in the zucchini, salt, and garlic. Saute for 10 more minutes, until the zucchini is tender(Editor's- Wait, REALLY? 10 minutes? That's a long time to saute stuff, am I crazy? Zucchini is pretty delicate, too- it gets mushy really fast. Saute at your own discretion). Add the tarragon, fennel, and black pepper. Cook for a couple of minutes. Remove half of the vegetables and set aside.
Sprinkle the flour into the soup pot, stirring, until the vegetables are well coated. Whisk in the stock. Heat, stirring frequently, until the soup begins to thicken. Remove it from the heat. When the soup has cooled a little, puree it in a blender or food processor and return it to the pot.
Add the reserved vegetables and heat the soup to simmering. Stir in the cream or milk. Take care not to let the soup boil.
Despite my reservations about the cooking times presented in the recipe, this soup was delicious- so don't mind me. Just do what you do when you make soup. I especially love that it's only partially blended, with some large chunks- it gives it a creaminess but still maintains some texture in the zucchini. Perfect! Get your soup on while it's still chilly- tomorrow March begins and it's all downhill to spring time!
Actually, I just thought about it for a minute, and I guess the 10 minutes direction makes sense (at least for the zucchini). Since this soup doesn't simmer for a long time, you'll want the veggies to be fully cooked during the saute portion, rather than with a chicken soup or something brothy, where you can just sweat the veggies and then let them finish cooking in broth. Never mind my rambling!