Friday, April 17, 2009

Zucchini and Rosemary Soup: In Defense of Food

What do you do when someone in your family loathes a dish, but you adore it? Do you keep making it? Do you have pity and eliminate it from rotation? Do you keep a stash hidden in your toilet tank, to secretly parse out to yourself at random intervals?

What if you were a food blogger? What if you whipped up a soup (er … for example), and half of your crowd despised it like a despot, while the other half praised it like a prophet? Would you post it? Would you bury it in your archives, next to that Potato and Black Bean Pancakes recipe that tasted like the filling of a futon?

Here’s why I ask.

A few days ago, as part of our Eat Your Veggies Experiment, I fed Dustin and Linda each a bowl of Bon Appetit’s Zucchini and Rosemary Soup. They HATED it. Like, if Darth Vader served it to them on the flaming corpse of a dead bunny, they couldn’t have disliked it more.

In retrospect, I should have seen it coming. Neither of them are big zucchini fans, and the texture was a little too bizarre for such particular eaters. Dustin was most wary of the aftertaste, and my sister said it looked “like snot,” which … okay, point taken.

Thing was, I loved the soup. My lunch for the last three days has consisted of: the soup, a banana, and whatever random starch I dig out of my fridge door. And without hyperbolizing in the slightest, it’s made me the happiest I’ve ever been in my whole life.

Rachel loved it, too. Even Epicurious readers were cocoa for cuckoo poops about it, lavishing the recipe with a 92% approval rating. That’s better than both Southern Fried Chicken AND Chocolate Layer Cake with Milk Chocolate Frosting. So there you go.

Subsequently, I’m postin’ it. That’s right, punks. This thing is going up on the blog, about six inches below this very sentence. No one can stop me, except maybe a Sith lord and his fiery rabbit.

Of course, if you were to try it, know the following:

1) This was already a waggin-fraggin bargain, but will be much cheaper in two or three months, when zucchini is in season.

2) You could probably cut all the butter to make it even leaner, but it’s sterile and I like the taste. (What movie?)

3) I added croutons, but omitted the scallions and chunked zucchini. You can, too. Remember: cooking has no boundaries except those you impose on yourself. (And those that fire marshals impose upon you. Those are pretty important, too.)

Have a fabulous weekend, folks. Get outside if you can, and make this soup, too. The dislikers will get over it, and you’ll be happier in the end.

Zucchini and Rosemary Soup
Adapted from the Bon App├ętit/Epicurious
Serves 8

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, separated
1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
6 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt broth
1 russet potato, peeled, sliced
3 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

1 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (optional)
Croutons (optional)
Chopped green onions (optional)

In a big pot or Dutch oven, heat butter and oil over medium-high heat. When butter melts, add onion. Cook 5 minutes, until a little soft and translucent. Add garlic and rosemary. Stir. Add broth and potato. Jack heat up to high. Once it starts boiling, drop heat to medium-low and cook/simmer 10 minutes. Add the 3 sliced zucchinis. Cook another 15 minutes. (Zucchini should be tender at that point.) Puree, using either a regular blender or a stick blender. (Be super careful with the regular one, working in batches.) Salt and pepper to taste.

OPTIONAL (I didn't do this): "Cook cubed zucchini in saucepan of boiling salted water for 30 seconds. Drain. Rewarm soup over medium heat. Ladle into bowls. Top with zucchini and croutons. Sprinkle with green onions."

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price Per Serving
78 calories, 4 g fat, $0.78

Calculations
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, separated: 204 calories, 23 g fat, $0.18
1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil: 66 calories, 7.5 g fat, $0.05
1 large onion, chopped: 63 calories, 0.2 g fat, $0.25
2 garlic cloves, sliced: 9 calories, 0 g fat, $0.10
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary: 2 calories, 0.2 g fat, $0.18
6 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt broth: 30 calories, 0 g fat, $2.25
1 russet potato, peeled, sliced: 168 calories, 0.2 g fat, $0.45
3 medium zucchini, thinly sliced: 94 calories, 1.2 g fat, $2.72
Salt and pepper to taste: negligible calories and fat, $0.02
TOTAL: 636 calories, 32.3 g fat, $6.20
PER SERVING (TOTAL/8): 78 calories, 4 g fat, $0.78

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