The last few weeks I’ve been inundated with summer squash. I made the mistake of picking some up at the Greenmarket a few weeks back, knowing I had a CSA share to pick up just a few days later. It just looked so good. I grilled some and figured I’d go though the rest in no time. Apparently not. Thanks to some schedule swapping to accommodate our trip later in the fall, I just picked up 3 straight weeks of CSA shares, all chock full of squash. I love the stuff but this is getting a bit absurd. Over the past few weeks I’ve gotten pretty creative, as you’ll see in some upcoming posts.
Right around the time I thought I might drown in zucchini and summer greens, I received a copy of the Gramercy Tavern Cookbook to review for this month’s Just Food Newsletter. My first thought opening the cookbook was, ‘”Wow, beautiful photography! But no one’s ever going to make any of this stuff.” I have copy of the Eleven Madison Park Cookbook and assuming the recipes here would be just as challenging with 54 cooking tools needed plus a background in food gastronomy. (Really, is liquid nitrogen something that’s actually accessible to the ordinary home cook?!)
But the photos looked so delicious. I cautiously scanned the recipes. Ordinary ingredients? Check. Recipe written in plain English and usually a page long or less? Double check. When I came across Michael Anthony’s recipe for Chilled Zucchini Soup, I knew I had to make an attempt.
While the recipes, I learned, seem to be uncomplicated, they are not meant for a small Brooklyn Kitchen with a mere 4 feet of counter space. Each step and move had to be perfectly orchestrated, space carefully negotiated. After making the soup, I decided zucchini soup wasn’t really the most appropriate name. With a heavy dose of basil and spinach, it tasted like a hearty green juice, the zucchini giving it body but acting mostly in a supporting role. The soup was light and refreshing, the perfect meal to come home to after a long day at work. My favorite part was the raw crunch veggies to stir in. Anthony advised baby turnips, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers, but I went with what I had on hand–kohlrabi, cucumbers, radishes and sharp scallions. Feel free to mix things up for your taste.
Chilly Summer Green Soup (Adapted from the Gramercy Tavern Cookbook) Serves 4
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1/2 c sliced scallions (white and light green parts only)
- 1 leek, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)
- 4 garlic scapes, woody stems removed and thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme
- 6 c vegetable broth
- 2 pounds zucchini diced, about 6 cups
- Sea salt
- 3 c coarsely chopped spinach, roughly chopped
- 2 c coarsely chopped basil
- 1 c fresh parsley
- 1 small head kohlrabi, finely diced
- 1 kirby cucumber, finely diced
- 3 radishes, scrubbed and finely diced
- 1/2 c thinly sliced scallions, green parts only
- Sea salt
- 2 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
In a large Dutch oven heat oil over medium heat. Add the onion, scallions, leek and garlic scales and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened, about 6-8 minutes. Add thyme, sauté for 1 minute, then add broth and bring to a simmer.
Raise soup to high heat. Add zucchini and a generous pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Cook until zucchini is tender, about 10 minutes. Add the spinach, basil and parsley. As soon as greens have wilted, no more than a minute, pour the mixture into a large bowl, set in an ice bath, and stir to quickly cool and preserve the vegetables’ green color.
Transfer soup to blender, in batches, and puree until very smooth and creamy. Pass the soup through a fine-mess sieve into a clean bowl. Discard solids that are left behind. Season soup with additional salt, if necessary, cover and refrigerate overnight.
Just before serving toss kohlrabi, cucumber, radishes together in a bowl with a pinch of sea salt and lemon juice. To serve, ladle soup into bowls and top with about 1/2 c chopped garnish.