Monday, July 7, 2008

M. Hulot's Holiday Soup:
Peppery Zucchini soup with homemade vegetable stock

Just as Jacques Tati's Monsieur Hulot heads out to the beach to celebrate summer, I enjoy the newly available bounty from the farmer's market and roadside stands. Summer squash tends to grow very well around here and you can buy a lot for very little.

As this is also the time of year when strawberries and blackberries become particularly abundant, room must be made in the freezer for storage.....which means cleaning out those vegetable odds and ends that I have been keeping for months with the intention of making my own vegetable stock. It turned out quite well, I think, giving this zucchini soup a very complex flavor.

Regarding pepper: I'm a bit of a pepper junkie when it comes to a lot of soups anyway, but must stress that the pepper is pretty integral to the taste here. I added more to my bowl when I dished it up.

The soup

2 T unsalted butter
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 1/2 pound zucchini, chopped large
7 c. vegetable stock
2 medium red potatoes, diced
1 t salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup fresh basil, shredded

1. In a large pot, melt the butter in the olive oil over medium heat.
2. Saute the the onion 4-5 minutes.
3. Add the zucchini, salt, 10 or 12 good grinds of black pepper. Cook for 8-10 minutes, until zucchini begins to soften slightly.
4. Add stock and potatoes; simmer until potatoes are done, 10-15 minutes.
5. Add basil.
6. Puree (in 2 or 3 batches is easiest).

Serve with crackers.

The vegetable stock
I used all the odds and ends I had been storing in the freezer over the past six months: the green parts of leeks, broccoli stems, carrot ends, onion cores, plus added a couple of fresh carrots and a handful each of fresh parsley and fresh thyme. I added two quarts of water, which was just enough to cover all of the veg in the pot, them simmered for....a couple of hours. I spent the time scanning photo negatives in the next room, perfectly complimentary activities as I was able to keep an eye on the stove lest the pot begin to boil over. Multitasking!