Last night I jumped in front of the camera for the first time. After two hours and two recipes – a vinaigrette and cider-braised Delicata squash – we were all hungry and tired, so I threw some together dinner.
Digging through the vegetable bin I found two medium zucchini and a red pepper that had hours of viable edibility remaining. Into the pot they went with onion and garlic, and the last of a container of homemade stock. After a good press through the finest setting of my food mill, I added a good spicy yellow curry powder I had on the shelf. A little butter and cream for richness and the soup was ready to serve.
Honestly, this recipe was never supposed to be published. But, like some of the best food, it was created without a plan – no recipe. We had to rely on taste as the final arbiter of success.
Now enjoy. And if you don’t like how it tastes, change it. Make it better. Then tell me what you’ve done, so I can make it in my kitchen.
Curried Zucchini Red Pepper Soup
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 -2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 medium-large zucchini, about 4-5 cups diced
- 1 large red pepper, diced
- 3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1-2 tsp yellow curry powder
- Sherry vinegar
- 1 tbs butter
- 2-3 tbs fresh cream
- In a 3-4 qt saucepan, over medium heat, sauté onion until softened, 3-4 minutes.
- Add garlic and cook 30 seconds or so until fragrant.
- Add zucchini and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until liquid evaporates and vegetables begin to soften.
- Stir stock into vegetables, add thyme and cook, covered, until vegetables are soft enough to mash with a fork. About 15 minutes.
- Press solids through a food mill and return to the stock. Alternatively, purée with an immersion blender or in your food processor.
- Season to taste with curry powder, a splash of vinegar, butter and cream. A little bite of heat is nice in this soup. Add a pinch of cayenne if needed.
Aside from Sylvester’s famous expletive, I thought succotash was one of those weird, dated American farm dishes where lots of unappealing vegetables were cooked down, in large batches, into an equally unappealing mush that inspired fond, parochial memories, while no one actually wanted to eat it. I was wrong.
Liz Creelman Patterson and her husband Rob are responsible for my recent education. The succotash served alongside my trout at their fabulous wedding earlier this month, was delicious with firm, fresh vegetables and bright herbs.
Based on a Narragansett Indian dish of corn and shell beans, succotash has spread throughout the US. It seems best known today in the South, where okra and lima beans are cooked in lard. I used the bright green beans that were plentiful at DC’s Eastern Market (and no shelling involved), added red pepper for sweetness and color, thyme for savory depth and a pinch of piment d’espelette, a French pepper that is dried and ground with great complexity and mild heat. Bacon brought pig to the dish instead of lard.
This succotash was the clear winner in our test kitchen that week. Ready in under 20 minutes, there was no sufferin’ in the preparation or the eating.
Corn And Bacon Succotash
- 3 slices thick bacon, diced
- Small onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 lb green beans, ends removed and cut into 3/4” pieces
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 3 ears of corn, kernals sliced off
- 1 tbs thyme
- Piment d’espelette or cayenne pepper
- Sherry vinegar
- Sauté bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until browned and cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon.
- Add onion to skillet with bacon fat and cook until softened. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds until fragrant.
- Add green beans and pepper to pan and sauté for 5 minutes.
- Add corn, cover pan, reduce heat to medium low and cook 10-15 minutes until vegetables are crisp tender.
- Remove lid, add thyme and bacon, and cook an additional 3 minutes.
- Season to taste with salt, pepper, cayenne, butter for richness and vinegar for brightness.