Monday, July 22, 2013

Zucchini & Bacon Soup

Zucchini grows like crazy in Utah gardens.  By Valerie Phillips

Zucchini & Bacon Soup by Valerie Phillips
Last week, I picked my first zucchini of the summer, and I used it to make Zucchini & Bacon Soup on the KUTV Noon News. 
 I also wrote about zucchini in my Standard-Examiner column
Today I went over to the community garden, and two more zucchini had grown to cucumber size, almost overnight. Looks like the zucchini season is already in full swing.
As  Ron Bird and I discussed on the KUTV segment, zucchini doesn't get a lot of respect because it's so easy to grow.  We take it for granted. You wouldn't think of giving away your asparagus or snap peas that way, would you?. 
It's not just Utah that has a thing about too-much zucchini, because I've found stories from other areas of the country about trying to disguise it in brownies and leaving it on neighbors' doorsteps too.
When I was developing this Zucchini & Bacon Soup recipe for my cookbook, my daughter said, “Oh, you made some broccoli soup!” 
She was ready to ladle herself a bowlful. But when I told her it was made with zucchini, not broccoli, she put the ladle down. 
When I was developing this Zucchini & Bacon soup for my cookbook, "Soup's On!" my daughter saw it and said, "Oh you made broccoli soup!" When I told her it was zucchini, not broccoli, she was disappointed. 
 “If you would have let me think it was broccoli, I probably would have eaten it and loved it,” she said.
Truth hurts.
I’ve served this soup for a dozen book signings and  the Layton Parade of Homes, and people often mistake it for broccoli soup.
It's just proof that you can make anything taste better if you put enough bacon, butter or cheese in it.
Even zucchini is about 95 percent water, it's a good source of vitamins A, C, K and B6, and lots of minerals and fiber. 

The beauty of this soup is that it needs very little prep work. It takes about two minutes to cut the zucchini into chunks. You don’t have to chop onions or cook bacon, since you’re using dried onion flakes and ready-cooked bacon (the shelf-stable kind that is often sold near the salad dressings). As a bonus, this type of bacon has 33 percent less fat.
You just let this soup simmer 10 to 15 minutes on the stove or in the microwave, until the zucchini is tender. Then you puree it in two batches in a blender, or with a stick-style immersion blender right in the pot. Add the half-and-half and it’s done. You could use milk or fat-free half-and-half if you want to cut the fat content, because most of the rich, thick consistency comes from the zucchini itself.  
If you want, you can scoop a spoonful of sharp cheddar on each bowl as you serve it. (Makes it easier to fool people into thinking you're serving broccoli soup, if that's your aim!) 
When you’re cutting the chunks of zucchini, it might seem as though you have too much of it. But with its high water content, it cooks down pretty quickly.  
Zucchini & Bacon Soup
 Try to use small or medium-size zucchini for this soup; the large ones are pithy and seedy.
Two 14 1/2-ounce cans chicken broth
3 pounds zucchini (8-9 cups of chunks, about 5 medium zucchini)
1 cup chopped frozen onion (or about 3 tablespoons dried onion flakes)
3-ounce package real bacon bits (about 3/4 cup)
2 cups half-and-half, or fat-free half-and-half
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1. Heat broth over low heat while slicing the zucchini in chunks about 1-inch thick.
2. Turn the heat to high and place zucchini, onion and bacon in the pot.
3. When the liquid comes to a boil, turn heat to medium and cover with a lid, allowing mixture to simmer 10-12 minutes. (Or place in a large microwavable casserole dish, cover and microwave for 10-12 minutes).
4. Remove pot from heat and allow mixture to cool several minutes.
5. Puree with a handheld blender, or in two batches in a stand blender. Start with blender on lowest speed, then move to high to reduce splashing.
6. Return to pan. Add cream or milk and pepper to taste. Reheat and serve. Makes about six 1/2-cup servings.
Options: Garnish with bacon bits, fresh basil, shredded cheddar or Parmesan cheese.
This recipe comes from “Soup’s On!” by Valerie Phillips (Covenant, 2012).

1 comment:

Gayle said...

I made this soup tonight after seeing it in the newspaper a few days ago. I grated the zucchini with my salad shooter since I wanted some larger bits in it, and oly puréed part of it. Turned out delicious! Thanks!