"All this passion over a handful of blossoms. But I, too, am captivated by these lithe yellow flowers, having grown them over the years, sometimes begging space in friends' gardens when I didn't have my own, becoming familiar with their whims as plants, how their gentle savor can refine and ornament other foods as well as please on its own."
-Marlena De Blasi, A thousand Days in Tuscany.
The first zucchini I ever saw I killed it with a hoe.
- John Gould
I have long had a love/hate relationship with zucchini. It all stems from growing up in a small, mountain town in California. Every one had a vegetable garden, and everyone had at least one zucchini plant in their garden.
A sort of sure thing, harvest-wise.
I loved the smell of the plants in their little patch of earth. The beautiful, huge green leaves, transparent in the sunlight. The golden blossoms, the bright green fruit. The way they smelled, indescribably alive and yet modest in their glory. The spikiness of their stems compared to the delicateness of their beauty.
There was something about that mountain place, that mountain soil, that caused zucchinis to prosper unlike anything many had ever seen. Zucchinis, left unchecked, reached baseball bat proportions. One had to keep up with the zucchinis, one had to stay ahead of the game.
My mother and neighbors became increasingly creative with zucchini as the summer season wore on. Zucchini began to infiltrate all kinds of foods that would not normally contain the green beast. This culminated in one neighbor's discovery--a recipe for a cake/bread using zucchini but that was NOT the ubiquitous zucchini bread; this was called "friendship bread," and required a starter.
It was fancy.
And it hit the little town like nothing had in a very long time, small towns being sort of incestuous and all, and soon everyone had made and received at least one "friendship bread."
When the bread started making second and third appearances, the name experienced a metamorphous, and was aptly dubbed, "enemy bread." Normally friendly people began hiding when they spied a neighbor arriving with suspicious packages in "enemy bread" dimensions!
I survived that summer, and many more like it, happily with my love of zucchini still intact. But, perhaps because it is in my blood now, I am always looking for new ways with this green beauty. It is in this spirit of the coming summer that I offer you a recent recipe I concocted in an effort to make a simple soup from what I had on hand. Happy zucchini bumper crops to you all!
Simple (yet effective) Zucchini Soup
Chop 2 medium size zucchini and add to 2 cups simmering chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
Cook until tender
Puree in a blender or food processor until smooth
Add 1/4 cup hummus and blend again until thoroughly incorporated.
Add mixture back to the pot, reheat and serve.
This soup is also good served cold, but is best warm.