Monday, April 8, 2013

Zucchini Project: Cooking Light Sopa Ranchera

Zucchini has a reputation for overwhelming production. But let's face it, for the gardener who is concerned that nothing will grow, it's always a safe bet that buoys our spirits. So in about 3 months some of you will start to post silly little questions on Facebook that look something like this, "What do I do with all this zucchini?" Every year when the wave of green starts coming out of the garden and I start hearing and seeing these questions I think, "Oh I know some good recipes." Then I get all overwhelmed and I can't find them in my books and I give up. Which is to say, I ponder the amount of effort it would require to look in my recipe book index and then I get tired and I stop thinking about it. Takes about 2 minutes to arrive at this extreme resignation. 

This year, I'm going to write those recipes down! To be clear, I am not a chef or a cook or a food photographer. I'm not even terribly good at cooking for my family. All of these recipes are from another source and almost always from Cooking Light because those are the fastest recipes to prepare at home. Also, being a self-taught recipe follower, it is the first books from which I learned and once I figured a few of them out I was afraid to follow anything else. 

Today I present the first in tested recipes for my Zucchini Project. 

Cooking Light's Sopa Ranchera
Approximate prep and cooking time: 30 minutes

1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (I bet you could just use a tablespoon of taco seasoning rather than the oregano, cumin and garlic -- you know, in a pinch.)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 garlic clove, minced
6 cups chicken stock
1 3/4 cups cubed peeled baking potato
1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
1 cup frozen whole-kernel corn
3/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 zucchini, diced (actually I used 2)
1 cup diced tomato
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Extra Optional Ingredients, Garnish:
chopped green onion
sour cream
shredded cheese
lime wedges

1. To prepare soup, heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add 1 cup onion; saute 3 minutes. Add oregano, cumin, and garlic, and saute 1 minute. Add chicken stock, potato, and chickpeas; bring mixture to a boil, and cook 5 minutes. Add chicken, corn, salt, and zucchini, and cook 5 minutes. Stir in tomato and 1/3 cup cilantro, and cook 2 minutes. 

2.  Ladle 1-2 cups of soup into a bowl and top with your choice of garnish. 

Based on a serving (1 cup soup, 1 tablespoon onion, 1 tablespoon cilantro, 1 tablespoon sour cream, and 1 tablespoon shredded cheese):

Calories 208, Protein 16.1g, Carb 21.2g, Fiber 3g, Cholesterol 39mg, Iron 2.2mg, Sodium 498mg, Calcium 119mg. 

Mom: I like the taste, but I especially like how quickly and easily this comes together. Basically you chop it all up and throw it in a pot. There are lots of substitutions that you can make when you run out of ingredients. And I don't have to fight the children to eat it.
Dad: It's salty, garlicky, savory, and full of vegetables. (I think he liked it.)
8-year-old: Potatoes are good.
6-year-old: Potato, giggle, potato. I just stuffed my mouth with peeps. Chick peeps. 

When we asked the children to rate this recipe on a scale of 1 to 10 -- 1 being toilet water and 10 being an A&W Rootbeer Float -- they replied a 5. Personally I give it a 9. 

If you would like to share a zucchini recipe on this blog, feel free to send it via e-mail. You can be a guest blogger and write your own review of the recipe. Just message me in comments to start a conversation.