Gleaning the garden
Sept. 29, 2011
By Kim Dannies
I push back the ache of summer’s end by rooting around the garden. Seeds are scattered for next year’s blossoms and remaining herbs are snipped to create compound butters. My green-thumbed neighbor delivers a rocket-sized zucchini — a bittersweet gift I am grateful for because nothing goes to waste. Like summer memories, the precious dregs of Vermont’s abbreviated harvest are bound for the freezer to be savored in deep winter.
Giant vegetables mandate that the soup season begin in earnest. I’m lucky to have grown up with the soup goddess. My mom, Pat Myette, is more than a little celebrated for her heavenly concoctions served up each Monday at Williston’s Vermont Respite House. Although she never works from a recipe, mom has graciously documented her zucchini soup. She’ll tell you that instinct, love, and lots of practice are the essentials for a great soup. I’d say that goes double for gardening and motherhood.
PAT MYETTE’S ZUCCHINI TOMATO SOUP
In a large pot combine 2 overgrown unpeeled zucchini, cut and seeded into medium chunks, with 1 quart of chicken stock. Simmer until the zucchini softens, approximately 20 minutes. Reserve.
In a large soup pot heat 1 T canola oil and 1 T butter. Add 2 cups of diced onion,
1 cup diced celery, and 2 cups diced carrots. Cover and simmer 10 minutes over medium heat until tender. Add 3 T of tomato paste, stir well, and cook 2 additional minutes.
Add reserved zucchini and stock to the pot. Simmer 25 minutes on medium heat. Cool slightly. To puree mixture, use a stick blender right in the pot. If you don’t have one, transfer soup to a food blender and puree to desired texture. To taste, season with salt and pepper. To serve, top with freshly chopped chives (optional). Serves 8.
Compound butters: Mix best quality butter with any combination of chopped herbs, garlic, lemon and orange zest, olives, capers, or Parmesan cheese. Roll butter into golf ball-sized rounds and wrap tightly in plastic. Freeze individually. Then store the like-flavored balls in labeled quart sized ziplock bags. Use the butter to flavor soups, stews, and crostini.
Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France. She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three 20-something daughters who come and go. For archived Everyday Gourmet columns go to kimdannies.com.