Cream of Zucchini Soup with Pancetta (gluten free, dairy free)

I knew it would happen. It was bound to. Nothing can last forever. Everything is fleeting. This too shall pass. All good things come to an end…

School is starting next week!! For most of the summer, the thought of that exact sentence brings on an intense feeling of dread and the sinking stomach that always follows. It doesn’t seem possible to do it again. I think, “Can’t the summer just last forever? I’m really good at sleeping in, and I’m, like, an expert at researching essential oils and pinning DIY projects (that I never make, but that’s beside the point), and super cute outfits on Pinterest. Plus, I’m so much less stressed and healthier right now. Isn’t that what life is about? Being healthy? Lowering stress? Heart disease is really bad. No, I can’t go back. It’s just not good for me.”

Then, at some point, I’m not sure what happens. Every year, every summer, something clicks as we are nearing the end of the season of pure unadulterated bliss, and I actually start getting excited to go back!! I think about how much FUN I will have this year, wonder what my students will be like and which ones will touch my heart the most, and think a mile-a-minute about what I can change and adapt and make more fun (that’s always the goal). I start to get my materials and classroom ready, and I get giddy. Yes, I will still get stressed. In fact, I am right now! But it’s a good sort of stress. It’s an energized, anticipatory type of stress. I think about the tough times, and there are ALWAYS tough times to be had in my job, and I wonder what they will be this year. I wonder how they will test my strength, patience, and compassion. I wonder how they will make me a better person, how they will force me to grow. I think about how I can do an even better job at maintaining balance in my life, putting my husband and health first, and how I can still make time for friends and hobbies. And then I remember that I somehow seem to do it every year. The last time I did it just seems so far away.

More than anything, though, I feel so proud and thankful to have the best job in the world. It is tough, and fun, and rewarding, and heart-breaking. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So, as I dust off my crock pot to prepare for the super busy fall season, you can be sure I will share all my easy, quick, healthy, yummy meals that I make with you! Please share as well if you have some time-tested, well-worn tricks for how you maintain balance in your life, while still getting dinner on the table. Although, we all know that sometimes that means going out to eat! And that is just fine.

Cream of Zucchini Soup with Pancetta

Serves 2 very hungry people by itself, or 4 for an appetizer or lunch

1 lb of organic zucchini, chopped in large chunks (skin on)

1 3oz container chopped pancetta (I get mine at Trader Joe’s, of course!)

1 box gluten free chicken or vegetable stock, or 4 cups (Trader Joe’s stock is the best!)

¼ cup coconut cream or full-fat coconut milk (canned)

**2 cloves garlic, chopped

**1 onion chopped

½ teaspoon ground coriander

½ teaspoon ground thyme

1 pinch red pepper flakes

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 tablespoon olive oil or butter

**If you have a sensitive stomach, have IBS or IBD, or are in the elimination period of the low FODMAPs diet, leave out the garlic and onions. I did, and this soup was AWESOME!

Instructions:

In a large sauce pan over medium heat, melt your cooking fat and add your pancetta. Cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until crisp. Transfer to a plate for garnishing later.

Add your zucchini and some salt and pepper to the same pot. If you are using the garlic and onions, add them now. Cook for 4-5 minutes.

Add in your stock, coriander, thyme, and red pepper flakes. Add a touch more salt and pepper (I always season every layer) and bring to a boil. Lower and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes.

Remove pot from the heat, add in your canned coconut cream or milk, and puree. You can use an immersion blender or you can pour the soup into a standalone blender. I used my Vitamix. You may have to blend it in 2 steps if it looks too full. Be careful! I added a little less than all the stock in the pot. You can definitely adjust how thick the soup is that way.

Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Ladle into bowls and top with your pancetta!

You can, of course, make this vegan by leaving out the pancetta and using vegetable stock!

photo 1 (22)

photo 2 (16)

inspired by Paleoleap