Rescue Me...

I've heard that anyone who has to buy zucchini during the summer doesn't have any friends. I think it's perhaps more true that you just don't have any friends who garden, or that you live in an urban area, because I certainly don't feel like I'm lacking in social interaction, and yet I'm constantly scouting out cheap zucchini on sale at the grocery store. After all, it's one of my favorite vegetables, and since I don't have a copious supply that I'm trying to get rid of, I usually just saute it as a side dish, or julienne it and toss it into a parchment paper pouch to accompany my beloved salmon en papillote.

So when someone at work recently asked me for suggestions for what to do with a surplus of zucchini, I didn't really have an answer for her besides mentally screaming at her, "Yeah -- share some with me!" I made a lame suggestion about chocolate zucchini muffins, but I didn't have a recipe to share with her, even for that. The exchange got me thinking about what else I could be doing with zucchini, and almost as if they were reading my mind, the folks at Slate published an article on that very same conundrum.

Their food writer, L.V. Anderson, proposed turning the summer zucchini bounty into a pureed vegetable soup, accented by roasted garlic and enriched by the addition of Boursin cheese. As you may recall, Boursin is one of my great weaknesses, and I happened to have a Costco multi-pack of it in my fridge as I read Anderson's recipe. I knew right away that I needed to make this soup happen as soon as possible.

As luck would have it, zucchini went on sale at Dominick's this week for less than a dollar a pound, so I dutifully gathered two pounds worth (it must not be a very dense vegetable, because it took a seemingly ridiculous amount of squash to reach that weight), and arrived at the conclusion that this would indeed be a good recipe to rid oneself of an excess of zucchini.

That assessment was only bolstered by the fact that the soup itself was delicious. I'm not sure that zucchini itself was the dominant flavor, since the vegetable doesn't have a particularly assertive taste in the first place, but it added some nice body to the vegetable puree. The predominant flavor of the soup was the sweetness of roasted garlic and just barely caramelized onions. Boursin brought a characteristic creaminess to the table, while adding some herbal complexity. I preferred it as a garnish, however, because I could taste it more.

It did take me longer than expected to get dinner on the table using this recipe, so it might work better as a weekend meal for most people. I think it would also freeze well, if you left out the Boursin and melted some into the soup upon reheating. That way, you could extend the spoils of your summer zucchini harvest for as long as you like, in addition to having a delicious meal ready to go at any time.

In fact, this soup was so tasty, I'd recommend giving it a try even if you don't need to be rescued from the zucchini taking over your yard. If you need to go to the store and buy some, like me, don't be ashamed. I'm sure your non-gardening friends would be overjoyed if you shared a batch of this soup with them.

Roasted Zucchini and Garlic Soup
adapted from Slate

2 small heads of garlic
2 lbs. zucchini, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 large onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 c. chicken or vegetable stock, plus more as needed
1 5 oz. package of Herb & Garlic Boursin cheese

Preheat the oven to 425°F.
1. Separate the heads of garlic into cloves and peel each clove. Toss the garlic, zucchini, and onion with the olive oil and a little salt and pepper on a 13- by 18-inch baking sheet (or two smaller baking sheets). Roast, stirring every 15 minutes or so, until fully tender and golden brown, about 45 minutes.
2. Turn off the oven. Scrape the vegetables into a large pot and add the stock. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, add about half the Boursin, and purée with an immersion blender (adding a little more stock if the mixture is too thick). Taste and adjust the seasoning, then serve garnished with the remaining Boursin.

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