Thursday, May 24, 2007

Sweet and spicey soup with zucchini

I never know what to call the vegetable. Is it zucchini? Squash? Courgette? Whatever it 's named, that's what it is and for this recipe I used the dark skinned type. There is also yellow skinned and light green. There is also a difference in shape. I took the elongated version, not the ball-shaped or the ones that look like small pumpkins. All in all, the difference in taste is not so huge. I guess you can use them all, but for the sake of accuracy: dark green, elongated zucchini is what I used.
Another ingredient that needs some discussion are the spices. I use ground spices, mostly, as they produce a more evenly distributed and stronger taste. If you ground yourself, be aware that finer grounding gives stronger taste immersion, especially when fresh. Still, you have to be careful and know your stuff. A spice like cinnamon can be different in strength from one ground packet to the next.
Another ingredient where the strength can differ enormously is sesame oil. I have the dark, concentrated stuff that is very strong. I have no experience with the lighter version. I only know from an Indian woman I know, who is used to the light version, that in case she can only obtain the dark one, she mixes it with regular oil in order to get something near to what she is used to. In short, the difference is enormous.

40 gram butter
half a teaspoon ground cloves
half a teaspoon ground cinnamon
half a teaspoon ground galanga (laos)
4 drips of dark sesame oil
green pepper
6 small zucchinis
2 large onions
1 liter water
1.5 table spoon soy sauce
4 bay leaves
1 table spoon of (light) honey
3 cloves of garlic (squeezed)
0.5 liter skimmed milk

Stir fry in the butter and sesame oil, first the cinnamon, cloves and galanga and then, after a few minutes, when you smell the spices, add the finely cut zucchini and onion. Stir fry and slowly build up heat, until the onions and zucchini are shiny. Add salt and bay leaves, stir and slowly turn down the heat. On low heat add soy sauce and water after which you turn on the heat again. When the soup is boiling, add the garlic. Boil some more and then add the honey, turn heat down and let the soup simmer. Taste from time to time; add salt, honey or soy sauce (or even pepper) according to your preference and the taste development. Take the soup off the fire and add milk. Allow to stand for at least 30 minutes.

A word on calories. I try to cook on a low fat basis. The interesting discovery is that whatever recipes I have learned or developed over the years, when I redo them, I find that the amounts of oil, butter, cream, honey and so on can be significantly reduced. The rule of thumb is that one should not have more that one table spoon of oil/butter/cream etc per 4 servings. For stir frying, for sauces, for stews, it surely makes it more difficult to retain the taste as should, but it can be done.
In addition, wherever possible I use low-fat ingredients such as light honey and skimmed milk in this recipe.
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