Soup in August. I know this is weird.
Soup is my de-stresser.
Ok… to be fair pancakes (especially the chocolate chip variety) are also my de-stresser. I find cheeseburgers to be a wonderful distraction. Peanut Butter Cookies rock my de-stressed world. But… focus, Joy! Soup is my de-stresser. It’s the chopping and stirring, chopping and stirring.
I made a big batch of soup late last week. I felt like I needed to stand in front of a pot, stir chunky vegetables around, and let my mind deflate and wander. The result: delicious soup that’s warm and hearty here in the dog days of summer. Should you want a more summer-y experience, might I suggest stirring a bowl of ice cream with a spoon until it reaches near soup consistency…. then scarfing it down like a maniac. That’s also totally therapeutic.
I needed to stand and stir. I didn’t need to stand over my chopped and simmering with a camera. Let’s just let this be what it is. It’s Monday and… dangit, today we are who we are.
I find that many good things come out of a wander. A wander down the beach for eye candy, ocean spray, and inspiration. A wander through the grocery to discover things like coconut vinegar and on-sale peanut butter. A wander through my laundry to find a hidden five dollar bill. I love a wander.
In this case, I was wandering through the Clinton St. Bakery Cookbook and stumbled upon this recipe. I’m overflowing with zucchini, and I needed a good stir… sold!
Though tomatoes are in season, I opted for a good imported Italian canned tomato. I appreciate the consistency of crushed tomatoes as they cook in this soup.
Naturally, there’s also a mega-ton of fresh zucchini in this soup as well. The zucchini is raw and easy diced, and paired with soup staples: onion, garlic, carrots and celery. As the soup simmers, it’s building flavors (and allowing my mind to get lost in the stir) (sometimes I allow my mind to wander towards mindlessly eating doughnuts) (whatevs).
Creamy summer bounty soup! It’s everything I needed. Also… this soup was a somewhat elaborate excuse to buy a bag of tater tots from the grocery. They’re the perfect accompaniment. Should you be inspired to also melt cheddar cheese atop your tots… well, duh!
This soup is perfect should you:
have an excess amount of canned tomatoes and fresh zucchini.
want to feel like you’re eight years old and your mama made you soup.
need to methodically stir a simmering pot.
need a freezer-stored soup for your future.
need a hug, in summer, without encountering a sweaty back.
Tomato Zucchini Soup
serves 8 to 10
adapted from Clinton St Baking Company Cookbook
3 tablespoons olive oil
about 1 cup diced carrots
about 1 cup diced celery
about 4 cups diced zucchini (skin on)
1 large yellow onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, rubbed off the stems
2 bay leaves
salt and red pepper flakes
about 4 cups (2 28-ounce cans) crushed Italian tomatoes
2 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth
2 cups water
2 cups whole milk
In a large stock pot heat olive oil over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, zucchini, and onion to the pot. Saute vegetables, stirring occasionally until onions are translucent and broken down, and zucchini is nearly cooked through (about 10 to 12 minutes). Add garlic and stir. Cook for 1 minute more.
Add thyme, bay leaves, and red pepper flakes to the pot. Stir to incorporate.
Add tomatoes, chicken stock, and water. Stir. Bring soup to a simmer and leave, uncovered, to cook for about 30 minutes. Taste soup to ensure that carrots are cooked through and soft. Add a bit of salt to taste.
Remove soup from heat. Remove the bay leaves. Blend soup in batches until smooth. Be sure not to fill the blender more than 1/2 full and cover tightly with the lid. Blending hot liquids is always and adventure. Place blended soup in a large, clean, pot or bowl. Once all of the soup is blended, stir in milk. Taste and season as necessary. You can push the blended soup through a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth for a smoother, more refined soup. I love the soup unstrained because I’m a dang hippie.
This soup freezes wonderfully. If left unfrozen, soup should be enjoyed within 6 days.