Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Psychological Problem

I have a psychological problem.

My friends would tell you I have many, however, the one that I most readily fess up to is the fact that I cannot stand an empty refrigerator.  I have a mini panic attack if I open up that fridge and it isn't just teeming with tasty vittles.  It's bad. 

So, when J and I returned from three weeks in San Francisco, I was downright giddy with anticipation for my inevitable trip to the grocery store.  And I went nutso.  I shopped with the wild abandon and unstoppable voracity of that baby gorilla in the trailer for that new Planet of the Apes movie, only not quite as homicidal.  Fresh fruit and produce, sausages and ground turkey, fizzy water and organic juices.  You name it and it went in the basket.  I drove home that day, trunk overflowing with grocery goodness, filled with the smug satisfaction of knowing that Mama was gonna be eatin' gooood for a while.

Then I realized that we would be leaving again in a week.

I have enough food to feed a third world nation. 


Over the next week, I did my best to feed the world (or at least a couple of friends) and had worked through most of the perishables.  Good job, me.  And then last night, I saw them.  Staring at me from the crisper drawer.  Those damn zucchinis.

What to do, what to do...

You work with what ya got, and you make soup!

This soup is great on its own or as a starter for a light summer meal.
Chilled Zucchini Soup with Lemongrass and Basil

Fresh lemongrass can be easily found in Asian food markets.  If you can't find it, you can use a prepared lemongrass paste (but those usually contain eeeevil corn syrup).

3 medium zucchinis, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3 stalks lemongrass
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 cup loosely packed basil leaves, plus 1/4 cup chiffonade
2 cups chicken stock
3 cups water
1/2 cup low fat Greek yogurt
2 Tbl olive oil

In a large stock pot, cook onions for about five minutes in olive oil until they become translucent.  While onions are working, cut off the ends of the lemongrass stalks and whack the stalks with the back of your knife.  This releases the oils.  Add lemongrass and garlic to the pot and cook for about 1 minute, stirring occasionally.

To prepare the zucchini, slice off ends and make a cut down the center lengthwise.  Slice each half into 1/2" half moons.  Add to the pot and season with salt and pepper.  Allow the vegetables to cook until softened, about 7 minutes.  Add water and stock.  Bring to a boil.

Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat and add 1 cup of basil leaves.  Simmer for 5 minutes and remove from heat.  Using a pair of tongs, fish out and discard lemongrass stalks.  They have fulfilled their destiny.  Puree the mixture with a hand mixer until smooth.  Pass soup through a sieve into a bowl, discarding solids.  Add yogurt and puree entire mixture once more to smooth out the soup.  Allow to cool and refrigerate until completely chilled (at least 1 1/2 hours).

Ladle into bowls and garnish with a generous sprinkling of reserved basil leaves.

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