Let’s give zucchini a little respect

Story by Valerie Phillips
(Standard-Examiner correspondent)
Mon, Jul 22, 2013
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Last week, I picked my first zucchini of the summer. I’m pretty sure there will be many, many more before the harvest season is over.

Zucchini is a vegetable that doesn’t get much respect, with jokes about trying to disguise it in brownies or casseroles, and anonymously leaving piles of them on a neighbor’s doorstep in the middle of the night. You wouldn’t THINK of doing that with asparagus, would you?

I think zucchini is so prolific that it’s taken for granted.

When I was developing this Zucchini & Bacon Soup recipe, my daughter asked, “Oh, you made some broccoli soup!” and was almost ready to ladle herself a bowlful. But when I told her it was made with zucchini, not broccoli, she put the ladle down.

She said, “If you would have let me think it was broccoli, I probably would have eaten it and loved it.”

Truth hurts.

I’ve served this soup at several events, including the Layton Parade of Homes, and people often comment that it tastes like a creamy broccoli soup.

I think it’s proof that you can make anything taste great if you put enough bacon, butter or cheese in it.

The beauty of this soup is that it needs very little prep work. It takes about two minutes to cut the zucchini into chunks. You don’t have to chop onions or cook bacon, since you’re using dried onion flakes and ready-cooked bacon (the shelf-stable kind that is often sold near the salad dressings). As a bonus, this type of bacon has 33 percent less fat.

You just let this soup simmer 10 to 15 minutes on the stove or in the microwave, until the zucchini is tender. Then you puree it in two batches in a blender, or with a stick-style immersion blender right in the pot. Add the half-and-half and it’s done.

If you want, you can scoop a spoonful of sharp cheddar on each bowl as you serve it.

When you’re cutting the chunks of zucchini, it might seem as though you have too much of it. But it’s about 95 percent water, so it “cooks down.”

Even though it’s mostly water, it’s a good source of vitamins A, C, K and B6, and lots of minerals and fiber. You can use milk or fat-free half-and-half to cut the fat content.

Zucchini & Bacon Soup

This recipe comes from “Soup’s On!” by Valerie Phillips (Covenant, 2012). Try to use small or medium-size zucchini for this

soup; the large ones are tough and seedy.

Two 14 1/2-ounce cans chicken broth

3 pounds zucchini (8-9 cups of chunks, about 5 medium zucchini)

1 cup chopped frozen onion (or about 3 tablespoons dried onion flakes)

3-ounce package real bacon bits (about 3/4 cup)

2 cups half-and-half, or fat-free half-and-half

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1. Heat broth over low heat while slicing the zucchini in chunks about 1-inch thick.

2. Turn the heat to high and place zucchini, onion and bacon in the pot.

3. When the liquid comes to a boil, turn heat to medium and cover with a lid, allowing mixture to simmer 10-12 minutes. (Or place in a large microwavable casserole dish, cover and microwave for 10-12 minutes).

4. Remove pot from heat and allow mixture to cool several minutes.

5. Puree with a handheld blender, or in two batches in a stand blender. Start with blender on lowest speed, then move to high to reduce splashing.

6. Return to pan. Add cream or milk and pepper to taste. Reheat and serve. Makes about six 1/2-cup servings.

Options: Garnish with bacon bits, fresh basil, shredded cheddar or Parmesan cheese.

Valerie Phillips blogs at www.chewandchat.blogspot.com.

 

Features, Food, zucchini
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