Friday, September 19, 2008

Zucchini Soup

I am honored to be one of the Leftover Queen's Finest Friday Foodies today. Jen's fun Leftover Queen blog not only dispenses great recipes, but she hosts the Foodie blogroll and the monthly Royal Food Joust, in which participants take on the challenge of cooking with three designated ingredients to come up with a winning dish worthy of our Queen.

This month's trio includes fennel (seeds or bulb), parsley and dairy. I have had great fun tweaking recipes for past jousts and cranking out a delicious Apricot-Ginger Shortbread, Mango & Red Pepper Chutney, Raspberry-Lime Cheesecake, Spicy Omelet Sushi, and Yard-Long Beans with Tofu, but I am having a bit more trouble coming up with a recipe for this month's joust as I am not an experienced manipulator of fennel.

I have a zucchini-spinach soup recipe I like to trot out when the squash vines are pumping out produce and thought that an adapted version of this soup might be a joustworthy entry. Alas, the addition of a little bit of cream at the end to make sure the recipe included dairy just doesn't taste right. This soup should stay dairy-free to highlight the clean, green tastes of the vegetables, so I will have to keep playing with fennel to see if I can come up with something tasty by the end of the jousting month.

However, do try to make a batch of this soup sometime when you are longing for a warming dish. It is better when you have fresh spinach, but a thawed package of frozen greens is an adequate substitute. The following recipe is adapted from my battered and split copy of "Greek Vegetarian Cookery" by Jack Santa Maria (Boston: Shambhala, 1985).

Spinach-Zucchini Soup with Fennel Seeds

3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tsp. fennel seed, crushed a little in a mortar or with handle of a knife
1 big bunch of fresh spinach (or 1 10-oz. pkg. frozen spinach, thawed), both rough chopped
2 medium zucchini, sliced thin
2 Tbsp. Italian parsley, chopped
10 cups vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a heavy saucepan and fry onions for 2-3 minutes, until softened. Add fennel seeds and saute another 2-3 minutes. Add spinach, parsley and zucchini. Stir around another 4-5 minutes to soften vegetables.

Add stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover and simmer another 15 minutes.

Leave out the cream.

Serves 6-8.


Maggie said...

I'm rediscovering your site after seeing it on the Finest Foodies list. This soup sounds wonderful! I'm a big fan of fennel seed.

Teresa Cordero Cordell said...

Rachel, congratulations on your FFF Award. Well deserved. Your soup looks tasty and sounds very healthy. Wonderful job.

Anonymous said...

I can't think of many greek recipes that use cream in soup... I wonder if this was originally an avgolemono-type soup. It kind of reminds me of magiritsa, a special Easter soup flavored with fennel greens, scallions, dill, parsley and another leafy green (my yiayia used the dark parts of romaine lettuce, but spinach could work). The soup is thickened with avgolemono: a mixture of beaten eggs & fresh lemon juice (in a 1-1 ratio). The key to not having it turn into egg drop soup is to beat a ladle of the soup broth into the eggs & lemon to heat them up in their bowl. Then add the avgolemono to the soup pot at the last minute, beating constantly and pouring slowly. The soup should not be boiling at all when the egg mixture is added, otherwise you'll get the strings characteristic of egg drop soup. The lemon adds a perky freshness and the eggs make it hearty and filling. (note: real magiritsa is made with organ meat from the Easter lamb, but we are meat-free, so veggie it stays)

Rachel said...

Thanks for all the kind words and Greek Reader, for the food history lesson!

Cindy said...

Congrats on your award, I am a bit behind on my info :) I love the soup, I'll be sure to add it into my rotation here shortly! (I always leave out cream, for obvious reasons :) )

Anonymous said...

First off, congratulations! Second, I've got SO much zucchini that I'll definitely try this recipe. Sounds wonderful!