A few years ago, I decided to lead a PEPS group. PEPS stands for Program for Early Parenthood Support and it is, as it sounds, a support group for new parents. I joined a group when my older son was just a couple months old and, while I loved the concept of the group, I just didn’t get that much out of it. I liked a lot of the women in the group, but didn’t think our leader did a good job of keeping things real. I felt like the only one who was having a hard time with the whole newborn thing and I think the leader could have helped some of those issues come out.
Because I really support the idea, I thought I should lead a group and help other women (or men) live through those first few months. Lucky me – I got an extraordinary group of moms and leading that group is one of my best experiences of the past five years. We met for four months and saw the babies go from tiny little bundles to sitting up and interacting with the world. These moms were very honest with the struggles they were having and I really felt like they all got a lot out of the time we all spent together.
One of the women was a real treasure. Deb is that incredible cheerleader type who is completely and 100% sincere. She is tirelessly positive and yet the first to admit when things aren’t going right. She injected humor and caring into all of our discussions. Early on, she told me her husband was a builder and was in the process of building two houses in a neighborhood that I love. They planned to move into one and the other was going to go on the market once finished. At the time, we were thinking about getting pregnant with our second child and our house was feeling a little small. I went to take a look at the house in question and fell in love.
Fast forward many months, many sessions of Randy crunching numbers, many decisions and choices on how to finish the house, and having my second baby – Deb is my neighbor. She is also a true and wonderful friend. We have spent a lot of time at one another’s houses and my older son and her daughter are best friends. She has helped me innumerable times – whether just pouring me a big glass of wine just when I need it, or watching one or both of my kids. We have shared many many meals together and one of her favorite things that I made for her was this soup. She keeps reminding me that she wants the recipe and the time has come to put it here. I made it for my clients last night and it is as wonderful as I remembered. A delicious way to start a Mexican meal – I served it with Baked Rice with Tomatillos and Poblanos and Black Bean Salad.
Deb and her lovely family are moving in the next month to another house and I am just sick about it. It is only 6 or so blocks away but I will so miss having them next door. Here is your soup, friend.
Sopa de Calabacitas (Zucchini Soup)
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine
Makes 6 first course servings
I made substantial changes to this recipe which I have included here. The original calls for a lot more cream (1 cup) which is too rich for my taste, but feel free to add as you like. Fresh epazote can be hard to find – I used dried as I was sauteeing the onions and added slightly less fresh dill.
1/2 lb. poblano chiles
1 1/2 lb. zucchini, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
1 cup chopped white or yellow onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. butter or olive oil
2 cups vegetable stock
2 cups water
2 cups corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
3 tbsp. chopped cilantro
3 tbsp. chopped fresh epazote leaves
2 tbsp. chopped fresh dill
1 small jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 – 1/2 cup heavy cream
Roast poblanos: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place poblanos on a baking sheet and bake until brown and wrinkled, about 15 minutes, turning once. Remove from the oven and carefully wrap a sheet of foil to cover the baking sheet. Let rest 10 minutes, then carefully remove the foil. When cool enough to handle, peel off the skins and discard the seeds and ribs.
Make soup: Cook zucchini, onion, garlic and 1 1/2 tsp salt in a wide pot, over medium heat, stirring often until vegetables are softened. Add broth, water, poblanos, and corn and simmer, partially covered, until corn is tender, about 5 minutes. Puree 2 cups soup in a blender with cilantro, dill or fresh epazote, and jalapeno until smooth (use extreme caution when blending hot liquids). Return to pot. Stir in cream, pepper and salt to taste. (Soup can be made one day ahead. Allow to cool completely, then cover and store in refrigerator.)