Zowza, this is GOOD Zoup!

Soups / September 12, 2016

There are two times of the year that food marks a note of dread when received. Fruitcake Season and of course the perpetual Zucchini Season. Grimacing and hopelessly upset that we answered our own front door, we are asked to receive these two food groups into our homes without giving up a hint of horror. — Oh, if only our well-meaning neighbors could see our trash cans!

Although I have no remedy for fruitcake woes, (except perhaps to mush it up, place it at the bottom of a planter, and hope it doesn’t kill your ferns,) I have an excellent solution for the green bullet of everlasting perpetuity.

I see it, that look in your eyes as you take in those little floating droplets of butter, listening with your tongue to the siren call of the San Marzano tomatoes, and breathing in the subtle hint of sweet parsley. ​But there’s more. Hidden underneath this creamy blanket of eden-like goodness is the smoky flavor of ham, potatoes and onion. A little fresh grated ginger compliments. And the quintessential tool of flavor-fabulousness: lemon juice finishes it off.

Oh, I didn’t quite stop there. There is an ever so small hint of curry powder that is undetectable except for the way it marries the whole thing together. And you need to get your nutmeg whole. Grated fresh nutmeg makes you feel absolutely god-like.

The secret to this dish is the layering of flavors. I intentionally built up the umami with the caramelization of the ham, potatoes and onions enjoying their sautee in butter, and the addition of a nice chicken stock that reduces and helps complete the broth is essential.

​Then of course, unless you really do like fruitcake, (not sure we can be friends…) the addition of heavy cream sends it to the stratosphere. And, suddenly this squash soup shows us her Zowza revealing the je ne sais quoi moment — the hold me back before I cry, kind of tastiness — a moment you think your mouth has actually melded itself to your spoon.

…All in the hopes that at least for one season you will not dread the doorbell.


Cream of Zucchini Soup with Ham and Potatoes

Although you use one pan for preparing this soup, the secret to depth of flavor is the steps you take to build richness in every layer. Follow carefully for maximum yumminess!

Serves 6


INGREDIENTS:

4 ½ C zucchini washed and cut into 1/2” chunks
1/3 C onions, diced small
1 small new potato and 1 small Yukon potato peeled and cut into 1/4” chunks
¾ C honey ham cut into ¼” chunks
2 C good chicken stock
1 C heavy cream
¼ t coriander powder
1/8 t curry powder
¼ t fresh grated nutmeg
4 T salted butter, divided
4-6 T olive oil
1 t fresh grated ginger
2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
Good Fiori blend flavored salt (no substitutions)
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
A little Italian flat leaf parsley and tomatoes to garnish
1 t Fiori blend sea salt


Direction:

  • Prep all ingredients, putting the onion, grated ginger, and potatoes in one dish, the ham in another, and the zucchini in a large measuring cup. Have your stock all ready. I suggest using either your own, or a concentrate dissolved in hot water. I don’t care for the canned variety.

The potatoes and onion:
  • Heat 2 T mild olive oil in large Dutch oven. Add ginger, potatoes and onion and saute, on medium high, until softened, about 4 minutes. I often put in about ¼ C of stock as they begin to stick, just to deglaze and begin to build flavor. Add a bit of salt and pepper while cooking. Remove and set aside.

The ham:
  • Add 2 T butter to the same pan, without cleaning anything off the bottom. Add the ham and cook just until you see browned edged. You don’t want the ham to turn tough. Remove and set aside in the same bowl as the potatoes and onions. You can add them all later.

The zucchini:
  • Melt 2 T butter and another T of oil to the hot pan and then add the zucchini, stirring and cooking for about 2 minutes and scraping the bottom as you go. Add the fiori blend salt, coriander, curry
    powder, nutmeg and lemon juice and stir. Then add the rest of the stock and keep cooking until softened, about another 2-3 minutes at the most. Add a little more salt and pepper.

Blending:
  • Take the pan off the heat and using a hand-held immersion blender, thoroughly blend the stock and cooked zucchini until everything is pureed. I find it splashes a little so just be careful and don’t wear anything you don’t want dotted with a bit of soup. When pureed, add the heavy cream and stir to incorporate. Then add the ham, potatoes and onion mixture and stir. Heat just until hot. DO NOT BOIL!

Serve:
  • Taste soup, add salt if needed although with the ham you’ll find it is smokey, buttery and not needing salt. But if you have a light hand when seasoning veggies at the onset, you may need more at the end. Ladle into bowls and serve with a few pieces of chopped parsley. Can also top with small slices of San Marzano tomato. Serve with crusty bread and a light, grassy Sauvignon Blanc wine.


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