Friday, September 14, 2007
Summer Zucchini Soup
This week has felt like fall in Chicago – tonight it may dip to 40F (4C). Despite the cold snap it is still technically summer, and I plan to make chilled summer dishes until they freeze solid!
Today’s recipe features zucchini, which was first cultivated outside Milan from summer squash ancestors that are native to the Americas. Like the tomato, it is a fruit that is treated as a vegetable in the culinary context. In reality, zucchini are the swollen ovaries of the female blossom.
The name zucchini is the diminutive of zucca, the Italian word for squash. In some parts of Europe it is known by its French moniker – courgette which is diminutive of courge (squash).
Our next door neighbor growing up was a woman named Eleanor. She was a fantastic gardener and had beautiful and well-maintained flower beds as well as a lovely vegetable patch. When she was on holiday, my brother and I would take turns mowing her lawn and watering her plants.
She would often share fresh vegetables with our family including sweet carrots, crisp peas and firm zucchinis, which my mom would make into a vegetable curry. One year Eleanor brought us a 3 pound fruit which had become fibrous and unsuitable for cooking. While we couldn't have used it to make a pot of this humble soup, it would have been ideal for zucchini bread (which I hope to feature this winter).
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups broth
3.5 pounds zucchini, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, room temperature (optional)
1. In a large pot on medium heat sauté the onion in olive oil until soft. Add the garlic and sauté for 5 more minutes.
2. Add the broth and bring to a boil.
3. Add zucchini, oregano and salt and cook covered for 30 minutes.
4. Turn off the heat and allow the soup to cool significantly.
5. Pureé the soup in a blender or food processor. Chill several hours or overnight.
6. Bring soup to room temperature and serve with a dollop of mascarpone.