Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

In Your Kitchen: Creamy Zucchini, Leek and Parmesan Soup

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

In Your Kitchen: Creamy Zucchini, Leek and Parmesan Soup

Article excerpt

Home canning is hot lately, with cooks from Boise to Brooklyn putting up pickles, making their own tomato sauce and jarring chutneys and jams. It doesn't have the same hipster cred, but another time-honored way to preserve food deserves some attention, too: freezing.

Our freezers have become the domain of ice cream, pizza, microwaveable dinners, a bag or two of peas and corn, and maybe a bottle of vodka, forgotten in the back. Many of us don't purposefully prepare food to be frozen for later, because with our chaotic lives, we tend not to think that far ahead.

Ghillie James hopes to change all that. The author of "The Foolproof Freezer Cookbook" wants home freezers to keep pace with the increasingly varied and sophisticated frozen selection at the supermarket, where it seems you can buy everything from Thai soups to French pastries. She touts freezing as a cost-saving method and a way to enjoy local, seasonal produce after the season's done. Freezing is also a boon for entertaining; hors d'oeuvres, main dishes and desserts can all be made in advance and frozen, significantly cutting down on last-minute scrambling.

The book is a freezing primer, with pages on proper methods for storing and thawing, what to do with a bounty of fruits and vegetables and even a list of "top leftovers to freeze." Who knew you can freeze egg whites and yolks, milk and even wine -- one of the many foods James recommends freezing in ice cube trays so you can plop a cube into a sauce. She suggests the ice-cube-tray method for pesto and also for meat juices left in the bottom of the pan after roasting -- nuggets of flavor for future recipes.

Parents of young children will find inspiration in the last chapter, which offers homemade alternatives to purchased baby and toddler foods. I'm well past that stage with a son off to college this week; and when he comes home for his first break, he'd be thrilled to find James' hearty chicken, ham and tarragon pie, aromatic lamb curry, or beef and spinach lasagna, waiting in the freezer. But I'll be sure to have his favorite ice cream and pizza, too.

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4 tablespoons butter

2 medium leeks, white and 2 inches of green, sliced

3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped

2 1/4 pounds zucchini, thickly sliced

1 large garlic clove, chopped

1 sprig fresh rosemary

3 1/2 cups chicken stock (preferably low-sodium)

3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 1/4 cups whole milk


Freshly ground black pepper

Chopped parsley for serving

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and saute the leeks and celery for 5 minutes. …

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