Until food blogging, I learned all I knew about Julia Child from Saturday Night Live caricatures so honestly, just don't share the typical foodie reverence of all-things-Julia. To celebrate Julia Child's birthday on August 15th, I decided to dip my little finger into the big mixing bowl that is Julia Child.
Dorie Greenspan, Rose Levy Beranbaum and David Lebovitz.
Wanting my world to be rocked, I thumbed the pages for ideas. The book at hand wasn't the famed Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume One (and Volume Two) but instead Julia Child's The Way to Cook, not French, no, but classic for sure, and a great choice for someone with some kitchen skills, more a book of master techniques and applications than a collection of recipes. If price is an indicator of the breadth and extent of this 500-page book, the retail price in 1989 was $50. Wow!
Her Cream of Zucchini Soup called to me! It uses a master recipe that Julia Child also applies to Cream of Chicken & Vegetable Soup, Cream of Cucumber Soup, Cream of Cauliflower Soup, Cream of Cauliflower Soup – see what I mean about a basic technique with adaptations? The base is a an onion-rice-liquid mixture that is incredibly flavorful and completely creamy. The big surprise? It tastes a lot like Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup, except fresh!
And yes, my world is rocked! Not in earthquake fashion but plenty. The soup is made almost from air – a bit of butter and onion for flavor; rice for substance; broth for volume; zucchini for color and more flavor; sour cream for creaminess. It was gorgeous and perfectly summer-y soup even on a 100+ degree, even-the-dog-doesn't-want-out kind of day.
Thank you, Linda, for the reason to wipe (lick?!) the bowl that is Julia! And Julia? Happy Birthday!
"This is very tasty!" ~ Anonymous
CREAM of ZUCCHINI SOUP
Time to table: 75 minutes
Makes 10 cups
"NO CREAM" CREAMY FLAVOR BASE
Use this base for all kinds of different soups.
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, diced
1/2 cup uncooked rice
4 cups liquid
For CREAM OF ZUCCHINI SOUP
Or use broccoli for Cream of Broccoli, etc.
1-1/2 pounds zucchini, ends trimmed, skin on, grated
4 additional cups liquid
1/2 cup sour cream (or Greek yogurt or cream or crème fraîche)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Salt, to taste
Fresh herbs, for garnish (chive for me, Julia suggests tarragon or parsley)
"NO CREAM" CREAMY FLAVOR BASE In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter til shimmery on MEDIUM HIGH. Add the onion and rice, stir to coat with fat. Let cook, stirring frequently and adjusting heat if necessary, until the onions turn golden, about 10 minutes. Add 4 cups liquid and let cook, stirring occasionally, until the rice is soft rice is soft, about 30 minutes.
For CREAM OF ZUCCHINI SOUP Stir about three-quarters of the grated zucchini and let cook for about 5 minutes, until zucchini is quite soft.
In batches transfer soup to a blender and whiz until smooth. (Since the liquid is hot, to avoid burning yourself and making a HUGE mess, don't fill the blender more than half full and do hold on tight to the top of the blender. Since you're working in batches, you can put the blended soup into the bowl with the remaining zucchini.)
Return all the soup and plus the remaining one-quarter zucchini and the additional 4 cups of liquid to the pot. Let cook for about 5 minutes, just until the zucchini is barely cooked. Stir in the sour cream and stir well until diffused throughout the soup and warmed through. (Little pockets of sour cream are great, don't worry if you don't get them all.)
Top with fresh herbs, serve and savor!
ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
LIQUIDS Julia Child says to use water or broth or milk or a combination of these for the liquids. I use vegetable stock or chicken stock for the first four cups and low-fat milk for the last four cups.
IN A RUSH? You can speed things up a bit by heating water or stock (any non-dairy liquid) for the base in the microwave while starting the butter, onion and rice. It's an optional step that speeds things along. You could heat all 8 cups at the same time but I always do this in a four-cup Pyrex dish that fits easily in the dishwasher, hence, four cups at a time. You really can't conveniently warm milk in the microwave without scorching it so if using all milk, I'd skip this step entirely.
GIANT ZUCCHINI Yay! Baseball bat zucchini work great here, just do a little taste test first. If it's bitter? It probably belongs in the compost pile. But if it's not? A great way to use a huge overgrown zucchini. If it's seedy, cut out the center spongy center and seeds before grating.
GRATING ZUCCHINI This is easy enough with a hand grater, takes just a couple of minutes even for so much zucchini.
FREEZING FOR LATER I love the idea of freezing the partially made soup to have on hand for making quick pots of soup down the road. I'd freeze it in either of two stages. First, just the base, the onion-rice-liquid stage, although I'd probably run it through the blender too; this would be best to have on hand for making different kinds of soups, not just zucchini. Second, the onion-rice-liquid-zucchini stage, this would be for making zucchini soup later. FYI, milk-based soups don't freeze well (nor ones with dairy products like sour cream or yogurt), so keep that in mind, in part, that's why I recommend these two possibilities for freezing.
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MORE SUMMER SOUP RECIPES~ Tomato Gazpacho ~
~ Chilled Zucchini Soup Shooters ~
~ Summer's Best Corn Chowder ~
~ more soup recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture
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from Kitchen Parade, my food column
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