Colours can be very powerful. Blue may calm, red may engage and when I picked the paint colour for the first house I rented in university, I chose “creme fraiche”, a light, pale yellow. It helped to lighten up oftentimes shady rooms with a bit of cheeriness. Yellow has that power.
Last week, it suddenly became cold and wet. It reaffirmed the end of summer. Combined with feeling a bit lonely, I knew I needed a bit of a pick me up. I searched for the perfect place to use some yellow summer squash. As Claudia Roden has said, “Eating yellow foods will result in laughter and happiness”. Here, you have happiness in a bowl of yellow soup.
I didn’t make up the name of the soup. It is a recipe by Nigella Lawson, which features a lot of happy, yellow ingredients. It was a really yellow soup! If it wasn’t already yellow enough with the yellow summer squash, broth and lemon zest, turmeric added that extra hue of infiltrating yellow. The yellow was so infiltrating it stained my spatula yellow, too! ;) I replaced the rice from the original recipe with barley for more filling soup.
Like all soups, it was a snap to make and I grinned after my look. The lemon really makes this taste like a light soup, but the barley makes this more of a substantial meal. For all of those eating after a post-(Canadian) Thanksgiving feast, this soup is for you, too!
Happiness Soup (Lemon, Zucchini and Barley Soup)
1/2 cup pearl barley
1 cup water
2 large yellow summer squash (I used around 700g of yellow crook neck squash)
1 tablespoons olive oil
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon turmeric
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
salt and pepper, to taste
1. Using a strainer, rinse the barley and drain. Place the barley and water in a small saucepan, cover, and bring to a simmer. Cook on low heat until most of the water has been absorbed and the barley is soft, about 30-40 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, thinly slice the zucchini and then quarter. A mandoline would work well here, but I seem to have misplaced mine!
3. Add the olive oil to a large pot and heat over medium heat. Add the lemon zest and zucchini, and saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened.
4. Stir in the turmeric and pour in the stock and lemon juice. Cook, uncovered, for 10-20 minutes, or just until the zucchini is tender. Add the barley when it finishes cooking.
5. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.