A few years ago, I watched some segments about peonies and Peony’s Envy, a famous peony grower, on the Martha Stewart Show. I knew instantly I had to have some in the yard. It wasn’t hard to get Dad on the peony bandwagon, as you might remember, he’s obsessed with flowers. After a little research and carefully considering the options from Peony’s Envy, we ordered four bushes in various pink colors.
They weren’t supposed to bloom the first year or even the second, but that first year we had a few stunning blooms. It was such a nice surprise! And this year? My, oh, my. This year, they are loaded with huge blooms that make me smile with even a glance. I wish they bloomed all the time because they really are something special.
I make a point to visit them on my daily walks outside, but can only enjoy them for a few moments a day before I have to get back to reality. I wanted to cut some flowers to bring in, as their location in the yard makes them difficult to see from the windows, but they are filled with bugs and I don’t like bugs and definitely don’t want them in the house. So my awesome Mom cut some and put them in a plastic cup on the table on the deck right outside the kitchen window so I could admire them all day. Yep, Mom’s the bomb!
You know what else is the bomb? This Healthy Zucchini Soup. I was looking for something new and exciting for dinner, so I turned back to Daphne Oz’s book Relish and knew I had to give this soup a try. Super simple to make, it’s incredibly creamy, warm, and comforting without the addition of any dairy. That makes this soup vegan if you use vegetable stock, gluten free, and crazy healthy. The bright flavor of the summer staple zucchini shines through, enhanced by some black pepper and stock. The only complaint I have about this recipe is that it says it serves four. Mom and I ate it with leftover wild King salmon and there was only a tiny bit left. It’s really a miracle there was any left it’s so good. Really you guys, this is don’t leave a drop in the bowl tasty! I think I’ll make another pot while I admire my peonies.
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 medium to large onion, diced
4 medium zucchini, diced
2 ¼ cups vegetable or chicken stock
Sea salt, optional, to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. When hot, add the garlic and onion and sauté about 3 minutes, until softened, stirring frequently so the garlic does not burn. Add the zucchini, 1 cup of stock, and salt if using and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, covered for 15-20 minutes, until the zucchini is tender.
Transfer the soup carefully to a blender and blend until smooth. Once pureed, pour the soup back into the pan and add the remaining 1 ¼ cups stock and black pepper. Return to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for about 5 minutes. Serve immediately. Leftover soup may be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Reheat in a pot on the stove or in the microwave
Recipe adapted from Relish by Daphne Oz