Even though J. and I were trapped in The Storm of The Century down in southern Indiana on our way to see my mom in Kentucky for the holidays, we really hadn't had any snow to speak of here in Madison. That's odd because because this particular time of year is the period when you lock yourself indoors because it's normally umptythree degrees below zero with a 20mph wind.
But not this year. It was a rainy (Dutch?) winter until night before last, when we had the first of two nights of a picturesque white fluffy blankety postcard snow. Not the towering grimy urban pyramids of plow-sculpted densepack or grey slurries of meltwater and salty post-snow, but the lovely cover of soft snow that gracefully starts by softening the edge where the lawn meets the walk, then ripens into a driveway and sidewalk-obliterating field of undulating and dazzling white
Of course, I now have to go out and shovel quite a few feet of sidewalk, but hey. I will officially enjoy this for a few more days, and think about great things to eat when it's cold and you don't mind staying in and doing a little work in a warm kitchen.
Here is a local favorite--a curried Zucchini soup with coconut that we found in Molly O'Neill's fantastic year-round cookbook "A Well-Seasoned Appetite", which is great because it pays attention to the foods that each season delivers to the produce department. You'll probably like it even if it isn't as cold as it is here.1 teaspoon olive oil 1 medium onion, chopped 2 cloves garlic, chopped 4 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch dice 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1/2 teaspoon turmeric (dried, ground) Pinch cayenne 1-1/2 teaspoon kosher salt Freshly ground pepper to taste 1-1/2 cups chicken broth, homemade, or low-sodium canned broth 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
herb mixture: 2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro 2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 teaspoon grated unsweetened coconut
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook for 5 minutes more. Stir in the cumin, turmeric, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Stir in the broth and coconut milk. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the zucchini is soft, about 25 minutes.
Scrape the soup into a blender and process until smooth. Pour into a saucepan and heat over low heat until just hot.
Combine the cilantro, mint, and orange zest in a small bowl. Divide the soup among 4 soup bowls. Sprinkle with the grated coconut and then the herb mixture. Serve immediately and try to eat slowly.