The pickle man

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cucuzza soup (summer squash soup)

I love my neighborhood.

It's been an insanely busy few days at my house... but this afternoon, the neighborhood kids organized a huge game of hide-and-seek that kept my older son entertained for two hours.  Do you know how much you can get done with only one kid in two hours?  Especially if you are used to two?!

So my little man and I decided to do something with a squash given to us by our neighbor down the street.  It's a weird Italian squash, called a cucuzza.

(Oh, and don't be alarmed, this is definitely NOT a 2 hour recipe - the soup took about 30 minutes... it was the mountain of laundry that took the bulk of the afternoon).

As you can see, it's quite a bit longer than your average toddler (and for some reason, this will NOT rotate!).
I was introduced to this soup by Christina, one of my best friends from high school, while we were both living in New Orleans.  It was handed down from her grandmother, which definitely means it's something special.  She has the type of grandmother who invites the whole family (somewhere around 42 first cousins) over for spaghetti every Sunday - and believe me, if they're in town, they show up.  

Christina's mom, Christina, and her grandmother, Gammy

The other great thing Christina taught me about this soup is that you don't have to have funky Italian squash to do it... just plain old yellow squash and/or zuchini work great.

 Oh, and the other weird thing about this soup is that you poach eggs in the tomato broth toward the end... but trust me, it's amazing.

Recipe below!

1-2 lbs summer squash (zuchini, yellow squash, and cucuzza all work well)
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce1 tsp dried oregano (1 tablespoon if you are using fresh)
1 cup water
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup wine
5-6 whole eggs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Slice the squash into thin rounds.  If you are using real cucuzza, you need to peel it first; yellow squash and zuchini both work well with the skin still on.

In a stock pot or other soup pan, heat 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil until sizzling.  Add the crushed garlic and cook briefly. Add the squash and saute until tender (about 10-15 minutes).  Add the tomato sauce, water, chicken stock, wine, and seasonings.  Bring to a boil and cook until the sauce changes color slightly (more of a brownish red, but it's subtle).  This takes about 15-20 minutes, but the soup is forgiving and can cook a little longer. 

About 10 minutes before you are ready to serve this, crack each whole egg into the soup.  Spread them around the pan and DO NOT stir until they have had a chance to cook a little.  You are basically poaching the eggs in the tomato broth.  Cook the eggs until their centers are firm.

Garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese (a lot!) and serve with French bread and a green salad. 


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