No matter how carefully Stoic the Vast may plan, we always end up with extra yellow summer squash and not enough zucchini. I adore the latter, tolerate the former. Cooked yellow squash feels to me like raw squid must — oogly, googly and slickery. Zucchini, on the other tentacle, is more self-possessed, holds its shape and taste while other vegetables are losing theirs.
This soup is in the current issue of allrecipes (yes, the website has a magazine). Even Stoic, who isn’t truly nuts about any vegetables except green beans cooked all day with fatback, likes this. Probably because of the sausage. And the seasonings. I had no dried basil but lots of fresh. If you’re using fresh, use 3 times as much as the recipe notes for dried and sprinkle it on the soup at the end of cooking. Fresh herbs don’t hold up well to hours of slow cooking.
Serve with whole wheat rolls and summer fruit. Recipe makes about eight 1-1/2 cup servings, only 204 calories each. And it freezes well.
Slow-cooker zucchini soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
12 to 16 ounces sweet sausage (I used chicken-apple)
2 cups chopped celery
2 pounds zucchini, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
2 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes, undrained (I used Italian seasoned)
2 green bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips
1 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon dried basil (1 tablespoon fresh, minced)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
6 tablespoons grated good-quality Parmesan cheese (a little less than 1 tablespoonful per serving)
Heat oil in large skillet until hot. If sausage is in links, turn out of casings. Add sausage to skillet and cook, stirring and breaking up lumps, until browned and crumbly, 8 to 10 minutes.
Put sausage in 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Pour off all grease except for 1 tablespoon. Add celery, onions, peppers and zucchini to skillet and cook, tossing occasionally with two wooden spoons, until vegetables soften, about 10 more minutes. You want vegetables to feel about half done.
Put zucchini, tomatoes with juice, bell peppers, onion, salt, sugar, oregano, Italian seasoning, basil and garlic powder into slow cooker with sausage. Stir to combine. Cook, covered, on low for 5 to 6 hours. Divide soup among 8 bowls and top each with Parmesan.