I'm fasting today. According to the radio announcers, the season has passed, already—the new moon sighted and another hungry Ramadan done. But once a year, for fall cleaning, I like partake, late or not.
It was easy at first. The fridge sat, tight-lipped and quiet. I'd had my fill of its contents last night: apple crisp and cold vanilla cream. But as the day wore on, and lunchtime rolled around, the peppermint tea began to roll around like an echo in my belly.
What it wanted, most of all, was to capture the zucchini from the kitchen counter. Strange, I know, after all these months of excess squash, but there it sat, heavy, beckoning, 3 perfect pounds of green. I imagined what I'd do with it: zucchini bread, zucchini pancakes, fried zucchini, zucchini soup.
It was early evening by the time I finally began to cook. I called my mother for her recipe for zucchini soup. She pointed me to the Victory Garden, a favorite cookbook she'd passed on from a library sale, annotated and all.
Beyond the zucchini, I found the rest in the garden. A pot of broth and rice simmered away on the stove, and I began to craft a batch of zucchini and brown rice soup. It'll be just the thing to break the fast.
ZUCCHINI AND BROWN RICE SOUP
adapted from the Victory Garden Cookbook
Makes 2 quarts
Wash, trim, and grate 1 lb. zucchini. Do not salt; the juices add flavor to the soup. Wash 1/2 lb kale leaves, dry, and cut into thin strips. Bring 6 cups chicken broth to a boil, stir in 1/2 cup long-grain brown rice, lower heat, cover, and cook slowly until the rice is just tender, about 40 minutes.
In a large sauté pan, cook 1 and 1/2 cups sliced onions in 3 tablespoons butter until wilted and golden. Stir in zucchini and cook, stirring, for 4-5 minutes. There will be moisture left in the pan. Mix in the kale, and cook, stirring, until barely wilted. Set aside. When the rice is cooked, stir in the zucchini mixture, heat through, and season with salt and pepper. The soup will have a beautiful green color and will be fairly thick. Thin with additional broth if you wish.