Thursday, July 15, 2010

Fresh Vegetarian Garlic Soup - A Good Recipe To Use Up Your Garlic And Zucchini Harvest, Plus Raw Zucchini Ribbon Salad

Sauté smashed garlic cloves and chopped onion.

Peel and chop the zucchini.

Don't throw out your zucchini peels. Make this raw salad!

It's Harvest Time - What to do with Fresh Garlic
Every year I grow way too much garlic. My peak crop was almost 400 heads. This year I controlled myself a bit and only grew about 100 heads. See how easy it is to grow your own garlic in my posts, Growing Garlic In Your Home Garden and Harvesting and Curing Garlic. So what do you do with a bumper crop of garlic? One idea is to make this healthful garlic soup. There is no need to wait until your garlic is cured to make this recipe. It tastes great when you use "fresh", uncured garlic. (Garlic from the store works just fine also). If you simply have too much garlic from your garden to use up, try making your own Garlic Powder.

Why is there Zucchini in this Garlic Soup?
As I was experimenting with different ways to make a garlic soup, I happened to be at my friend Ray's house. He is a gardener extraordinaire and always plants way more veggies than one family can possibly consume. This year he exceeded the legal limit of zucchini. One plant is enough for a family, two for the neighborhood but he has over a dozen. Seriously - an entire city can be fed with the amount of zucchini he has coming out of his garden. Lucky for me, I got to go home with an entire bag of it. Hence the 8 cups of chopped zucchini in this recipe. I also added cannellini beans to thicken the soup and provide an extra shot of protein and cholesterol lowering qualities.

Don't Throw Out the Zucchini Peels
Because I wanted a white garlic soup, I peeled the zucchini. As I was peeling them, however, I felt a tug at my heart as the beautiful fresh peels were landing in the sink. I quickly scooped them up, rinsed them off and decided to make a nice raw salad. I just placed them in a bowl, tossed them with my Home made Balsamic Vinaigrette Salad Dressing and topped the zucchini ribbons with a few fresh blueberries and chopped walnuts. Using the peels left over from this garlic soup recipe mades about two servings and Doug and I munched the salad while we were waiting for the garlic soup to simmer.

The Benefits of Garlic
Garlic is a true power food. It's phytochemicals include saponins, quercetin and organosulfurs like allicin. To get the most health benefits from garlic, make sure you chop or smash it and let it rest for at least 15 minutes before cooking. Garlic has associated with health benefits such as lowering cholesterol, lowering cancer risk, having antibiotic, anti-viral, anti-parasitic and anti-fungal qualities. It has also been said to have a blood cleansing properties and also the ability to bolster immunity. It's a component of the healthy Mediterranean diet.

Vegetarian Garlic Soup with Zucchini and Cannellini Beans
[serves 4]
1/2 cup peeled garlic cloves, smashed (1 large or 2 small heads)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
4 cups veggie broth (home made is better)
8 cups zucchini, peeled and diced
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
1 15 ounce can cannellini beans, drained
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese (omit for vegan recipe)
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Peel and smash garlic cloves and set aside for 15 minutes while the beneficial phytochemicals in the garlic are developing their healthful qualities.
Sauté the garlic and onions slowly in olive oil over a low to medium heat for about 10 minutes. They will become clear - do not brown. Add broth, zucchini, bay leaf, thyme, sage, salt and pepper and cannellini beans. Bring to a boil and then lower heat and simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes. Turn off the heat and remove bay leaf. Blend the soup until smooth by putting it into a blender or using a hand blender in the soup pot. Stir in the lemon juice, adjust salt and serve topped with fresh parsley, parmesan and some additional freshly ground black pepper if desired.

Per serving: 222.5 calories, 4.8 g fat, 1.0 g saturated fat, 2 mg cholesterol, 11.4 g protein, 36.7 g carbohydrates and 14.8 g fiber.

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