We’re back from New York and on the eve of returning to work after about 2 months of maternity leave, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve managed to cook since Madeleine’s birth. In fact, I can count them on three fingers. That’s right. In two months, I’ve cooked three times and none of them were terribly ambitious endeavors. Still, looking at the latest pictures of Maddie and how much she’s plumped up, she and I are clearly eating well.
Right before we left to visit the grandparents in New York for the month of September, I used a huge crop of home-grown tomatoes (thanks Saskya!) to make tomato pie to freeze for our return. My second undertaking took advantage of my mom’s discovery of quinoa and willingness to babysit. I excitedly perused Epicurious on my parents archaic computer, finally deciding up on a recipe only to realize after the fact that I had not only made it but blogged about it a year earlier. They say having children does terrible things to the memory and I wish I had remembered that while the dish was okay, it certainly wasn’t interesting enough to want to make again when one has such rare opportunities to cook!
My final attempt at cooking during this pre-day care period consisted of a zucchini egg-lemon soup published in the New York Times food section on September 10. Did I stumble upon it in my usual way, reading the paper online in the morning? No, of course not! I haven’t had a chance to do that since Madeleine was born. Instead, bleary and exhausted at Starbucks one afternoon, I happened across a copy of the paper someone had left behind and enjoying a few minutes of peace while Maddie slept in the din of the coffee shop, I came across this simple soup recipe.
After buying the ingredients, it literally took me a week to have the time and energy to make the soup and I can’t say it was entirely worth the effort. It was fine, but not terribly flavorful, which shouldn’t be such a surprise given that zucchini itself is rather bland. After adding a LOT of lemon juice, parmesan, and ground pepper the soup definitely perked up, becoming brighter and more flavorful. Still, it wasn’t enough to make me race for the leftovers the next day. If you’ve got an abundance of zucchini to use up, by all means give it a try, otherwise I’d say skip this one and hold out for a soup with a bit more bang.
As for me, day care starts this upcoming week and with my office in the process of moving, I’m working from home. All of which goes to say, I’m excitedly looking forward to doing some cooking and hopefully a little blogging to go along with it…
Zucchini egg-lemon soup (serves 4-6)
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, minced
1/4 cup short-grain rice
2-3 medium zucchini or other summer squash, shredded
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, more to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese for garnish, optional
1. Put oil in large saucepan over medium high heat. Add onion, stir occasionally, cooking until soft, about 2-3 minutes. Add rice and stir to coal with oil, then continue cooking, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
2. Add zucchini, a sprinkle of salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Stir constantly for a couple of minutes until zucchini starts to wilt and release its liquid. Add about half of the parsley. When the mixture starts to stick to the pan, stir in 6 cups water. Bring soup to boil and reduce heat so mixture simmers steadily. Cover and cook 20-30 minutes until rice is tender and vegetables start to melt into soup.
3. Beat eggs in a 4-cup bowl or larger heat-resistant bowl, then whisk in the lemon juice. Take a ladle of broth from the pot (don’t include too many vegetables) and slowly add broth to eggs, a few drops at a time at first, whisking constantly so eggs do not curdle. Repeat once or twice more until egg mixture is thick, smooth and very warm.
4. Adjust heat so that soup bubbles gently. Slowly add egg mixture, stirring constantly. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more lemon juice, salt and/or pepper as needed. Serve immediately, garnished with remaining parsley and, if you like, cheese.