Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Farmer's Fresh Summer Zucchini and Herb soup

(picture of soup coming soon, camera acting up again- enjoy the basil)

It is official summer in New York City, for any one that was doubting otherwise! It has been in the 90's and the humidity feels like water just floating in the air. This weather has actually made me kind of lose my appetite. So all day I find myself running around (letting me blood sugar get too low) and then I get home at night and I am starving! This soup is nice and light and hopefully something you can have in the middle of the day. It was inspired by Halfdan, but I have made it summer-y by cooling down, so it has a gazpacho feel (which by the way is my new task to perfect). It is farmer's fresh because all the ingredients can be found at the farmer's market (bar the lemon if are not in California, the Med or North Africa ;)

I have been doing almost all of Pete and my shopping at the Farmer's Market and like Charlotte described in her last post, it totally changes the way you shop (umm, brings some joy into it instead of crowded lines and dread) and it makes you invent your own dishes because frankly you cannot go there knowing you will find everything you need. You have got to roll with the seasons and the produce. People freak out at this prospect, but trust me; take a deep breath, and just shop. You'll never know the wonderful things you could make without a recipe until you try.

This is a rough (estimated recipe), you know I do not like to be too strict about amounts anyway...

Farmer's Fresh Summer Zucchini and Herb Soup

serves plenty: probably 8 comfortably
cooking time: one hour + and chilling time


4 oversized zucchini or 6 medium to smaller ones (give or take)
1 white onion
5-6 cloves of fresh garlic
peperoncino flakes
1 organic vegetable broth cube or homemade vegetable stock
a huge bunch of fresh basil
a huge bunch of fresh Italian parsley
lemon and and sea salt to garnish

* Need a hand-held blender

** Also I think it would fun to experiment with other summer squashes, like yellow.


In a nice sturdy (cast iron- Le Crueset I prefer) pot cook down the chopped onion and garlic cloves until they are soft, translucent and golden (approximately 20 minutes). I added the pinch of peperoncino with the onions and garlic, so that the heat cooked off a bit. If you do not prefer any spice just leave it out. Remember it's your recipe.

Then add the chopped zucchini (you can chop them roughly because they will be blended). Salt and pepper the zucchini and then put the lid on the pot. This cooks the zucchini down a bit faster. They will take approximately 30 minutes to cook all the way through. You want them a little golden and not too mushy, so remember to take the cover off and mix them up occasionally.

When you believe they are done, add the vegetable stock and a few cups off water. Blend the mixture up, check the consistency to your liking before you add any more liquid. Wither add more liquid or not depending on preference. Then add chopped herbs. Blend again. Refrigerate to cool ( or have it hot).

Garnish with lemon and sea salt before serving.

Enjoy, of course!
peace and love

Hello from Syria!

If someone had told me a year and a half ago that I would be living in Damascus for 4 months and studying intermediate Arabic, I am not sure whether I would have believed them but here I am, typing in the heat of the day, hoping that I can upload this without too many problems!

One month of my course is now finished and I am moving up in the world to level 5 at the University of Damascus– scary stuff. I have just come back from a much needed getaway to Beirut, Lebanon. Only 3 and a half hours away from Damascus yet poles apart in other ways. Noisy and humid, this glass urban jungle is a hybrid of New York meets Paris meets Dubai yet it has managed to retain its integrity and brought many of the positive aspects of these destinations into reality. Modern skyscrapers juxtapose old shuttered townhouses, local bistros and coffee houses attract the same diverse clientele as the street vendors and 5* restaurants, mosques stand harmoniously with churches, lots of pedestrian areas who promote the cafe atmosphere, roman ruins acting as gardens for government buildings...I heart Beirut.

Some of the highlights include walking around the campus of American University Beirut that stretched down to the Mediterranean, singing away a few hours at a legendary jazz club and bumped into someone who gave us a lecture last year on the Middle East, criss-crossing Beirut’s food and shopping districts and sampling most of what was on offer, eating in the seaside restaurant of a sleepy harbour town who counted Bridget Bardot as a regular in the 60’s, watching Algeria take on England in the World Cup with the Imam from the Mosque chanting the night time call to prayer, and Souq al-Tayeb.

I had not realised that the amount of falafels I can eat is finite – I am in falafel overkill – but Beirut was a foodie dream. Without doubt the best food I have eaten since arriving here this summer – dandelion leaves with almonds and onions, runner beans with tomatoes and garlic, halloumi and apricots.....yum yum yum. Last summer J and I went to the Union Square Farmer’s Market in NYC – local, seasonal and wholesome is what we like! I found a little slice of goodness whilst in Beirut and I will definitely be back for more...

Souq al-Tayeb is a local organic market set up by farmers, cooperatives and small producers who wanted to celebrate Lebanese produce. Every Saturday between 9-2pm, the Saifi district car park hosts this unique venture in the Middle East and transforms itself into a haven of little stalls selling the good and the great. Juice stalls, vegetables, cold soups and bread, cheeses, fruit and wraps, honey and jam and baking. 100% Local Lebanese. Don’t you think you can smell goodness? The tomatoes tasted like what I imagine Italian tomatoes do – sunshine, earth and sweet juicy redness. I want to do my shopping there every week! We treated ourselves to some sugar free jam made from strawberries, grape molasses and a drop of agave. I had no idea that I would stumble across so many like-minded people in Beirut. There is a small but beautiful food revolution coming to the Middle East and I really hope they jump on the bandwagon with as much enthusiasm as we have.

Hooray for getting back to blogging!

Hooray for food!

And the biggest HOORAY for friends!

Salaam, Charlotte xx

P.S....I have spent 2 hours trying to upload some photos but the system keeps shutting down....Sorry! Xx