Soup; such a simple four letter word, however the variety is endless. As I mentioned before my mother-in-law was an amazing cook and did magical things with leftovers, as well as whatever may be hanging out in the fridge. As a young bride, living with my mother-in-law, I opted out on occasion to stay home and clean the apartment while she and my husband went shopping on Saturday mornings. One Saturday, early in the marriage, I also offered to make dinner. I was young, I was foolish; and I “really” wanted to make an impression. Yes, I was very foolish! Chili was a family favorite, “my family” and I was pretty darn good at making this “American” dish as my mother-in-law would call it! That night we silently ate dinner. As a dutiful husband he raved that it was delicious while my mother-in-law sat in silence. I thought it was wonderful, however throughout the whole dinner I knew it was not her kind of food. Of course there were leftovers and I wonder what would be their fate! On Monday night came their resurrection as “soup”; marvelous minestrone style soup, with vegetables, and pasta in a savory tomato broth. She was a food magician and leftover chili was never the same. I might also add I never cooked again for her, I was a student of her kitchen. She taught me well and I am the cook I am today because of her!
I love soup, all varieties of soup; especially cream style and I try to make them healthy. So yesterday as I pondered what I might have for dinner, I found a lonely zucchini and some cremini mushrooms in the fridge. Of course as any good cook would have there are always onions, garlic, celery, chicken stock, EVOO and a various dried herbs in my kitchen for the base of my soup. So with pot in hand I began to dice, sauté, simmer, and then blend my ingredients into a lovely earthy creamy soup! My mother-in law would be very proud. No cream, no milk, no butter; just simple vegetables and precious knowledge from an amazing lady who I loved and admired. Hope you will “enjoy” it too!
1 small to medium onion diced
2 stalks of celery diced
2 cloves of garlic diced
1 medium zucchini diced
6 to 8 ounces cremini mushrooms diced
2 Herb ox Chicken bouillon cubes ( my mother-in-law would use these as they were inexpensive and give good flavor )
2 cups of water
1 to 2 cups chicken stock ( you can add extra after the soup is blended to adjust the thickness you prefer ) You can use vegetable stock.
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons EVVO
Salt and pepper to taste
In a 3 quart sauce pan heat the EVOO. Add the diced onion and celery, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and cook about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and the mushrooms (do not salt, it will steam the mushrooms and you want them to brown ) cook about 5 minutes. The bottom of the pot should have those brown bits. Next add the bouillon cubes so they get soft and then the water, stock and herbs. Bring to a slow boil and add zucchini. Simmer about 15 to 20 minutes until the zucchini is soft. cool slightly and place in blender in small batches. Blend till smooth and place back in pot. If you have an immersion blender you can use it but I prefer a blender. Taste for seasoning add salt and pepper if needed and check consistency. If it is too thick add some stock. You can also add a finely diced potato with the zucchini if you want a creamier soup. If you let the soup rest a bit before you serve it the flavors will intensify. I like to make soup in the morning if I can.
Creamy, earthy and very healthy; just think of all the combinations you could make. Broccoli or Cauliflower with just the base of onions, celery, garlic, EVOO and a stock of your choice. Thanks Mom, you taught me well!