I have heard it said that you should lock your car around here in the summer, not to prevent theft but to foil the gardeners who troll parking lots looking for open cars where they can leave their excess zucchini.
Considering what recently happened to my car, this sounds like a major trade up in terms of larceny.
Also, I happen to love zucchini and its yellow cousins. Even now, when the faucets are full-on open, I love them. How can you not love a plant that is so supremely organized and efficient that it can crank out these handsome items
by the bucketload when all the plants around them are gasping from drought, bolting from heat, withering in the sun? Even when a basket-busting, counter-obscuring, headache-threatening metric buttload of zucchini comes thundering into the house, my ardor remains strong.
There are a lot of reasons for this ardor, and one them is Julie, who is the undisputed champion of so many areas of the menu that is has become pointless to catalog her numerous titles (Queen of the Bean, Empress of Elixirs, Chile Tsarina). Some broader title needs to be established for her. In one of her characteristically casual moments of generosity, she emailed me about this zucchini soup she had been whipping together. I lacked a few of the things required to reconstruct it exactly, but because I received the email while bushwhacking through a bushel of squash, I punted.
That was two summers ago, and I’ve never looked back. With this handy method, it is possible to render a Code Blue Zucchini Situation like this:
into a call for quiet gloating like this:
Magical! Here is Julie’s Zucchini Soup v. 2.0, wherein you, our hero, capitalize on zucchini’s confounding ability to sweat large amounts of liquid in the presence of salt, and produce for yourself a substance which can magically transform from summer refresher to winter restorative at the flick of your wrist. Chill this down right now, and serve it as is–or with a squeeze of lemon on top and maybe a splash of olive or chile oil or a swirl of pesto or a sprinkling of fresh herbs, maybe some buttermilk or this magical yogurt –and you will swagger around feeling pretty spiffy at the end of a hot day. Maybe you can’t bear the idea of another zucchini right now. Whatever your feelings regarding the zucchini in July, I can attest you will approach it with a twinkle in your eye come February. In the produce doldrums, a warm bowl of this with a swirl of heavy cream and some curry powder is a welcome sight on the placemat. I freeze as much of this stuff as I can jam into the Kenmore. Thank you, Julie.
Measurements are profoundly approximate here. It’s more of a method than a recipe. If your zucchini payload is mostly on the young side (admittedly preferable), no special treatment is required. If they are a little more aged than that (still well worth using), use your judgement regarding peeling tough outer bits and discarding cottony centers, and try to work a few of the juvenile specimens in with them to ensure that lovely color.
For every seven or eight zucchini, one medium onion, a decent splash of olive oil and about a quarter cup of white wine (Mirin, or Japanese rice wine, makes a nice alternative), plus salt and pepper and about a teaspoon of lemon zest, very finely grated.
Dice the onion, and heat the olive oil in a large soup pot. Saute the onion over low heat with about a teaspoon of salt, stirring as necessary, until the onion is soft and not at all brown, about five minutes.
Meanwhile, hack the squash up by no special method into chunks of 1-2″.
Add the squash to the onion along with the wine and lemon and a few twists of pepper, and give it all a good stir. Turn the heat up, and when the zucchini pieces are nicely coated, add about a cup of water (or broth, if you feel you must, but water is fine). Bring this to a nice boil, lower the heat to a simmer, and cover the pot.
Cook, stirring every couple minutes to ensure even heating, until the squash has given up a nice amount of liquid and is tender but still bright, like so:
Now attack the pot with your stick blender, and render yourself a nicely even purée. Fish around determinedly for lurking chunks, and show them no mercy. A gloriously green and supremely smooth soup is your goal. You can do this, of course, in batches in a regular blender but take care to recall that hot liquids expand and caution must be exercised. I tend to burn my eyeballs and make a hell of a mess when I use the regular blender for hot soup.
Cool and deploy.