Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Basil Zucchini Soup

After the grilled zucchini I made a few weeks ago, the flavor has been haunting me. That juicy, fresh flavor that a recently cut zucchini has, the vibrant green. Zucchini season just inspires me to eat veggies. Will and I have been on a bit of a veggie kick lately (which means that I'm on a veggie kick and Will eats what I make him. What's he going to do, cook for himself?) brought on by the amazing bounty of the farmers market, and my desire to not turn the oven on. I know I could stir fry, bring out the grill pan, or even saute a lot of meats, but the truth is at this time of year meat just takes too much time and too much heat. Most of the meat we've had lately has been in the form of prosciutto or salami, cooking already done.

It was a whim, really, that those two huge zucchinis ended up in my bag at the Jackson Heights Farmers Market last week. I didn't know what I was going to cook yet, and they just looked so hearty and awesome. It was time, I decided, for a fresh summer soup.

I wanted something simple, not too many ingredients, easy to make on a weeknight. This soup appealed to me because of its use of basil, another heavenly summer ingredient. Use a light hand with it, otherwise the soup can come out a bit too pestoy, though that's really not the worst thing in the world. I used chicken stock because I still had a large bag of it in the freezer, but next time I might use vegetable stock if I have it on hand to make it a completely vegetarian soup. (I would say vegan, except I loved dropping spoonfuls of sour cream or creme fraiche into it, making it decidedly unvegan.) *Editors Note: I tried making it with vegetable stock a few weeks later, also very delicious.

Zucchini Basil Soup
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine

- 2 pounds zucchini, trimmed and cut crosswise into halves.
- 1/2 teasoon salt
- 3/4 cup chopped onion
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 cups stock (chicken or vegetable)
- 1/3 cup basil leaves
- 1 cup of water

With a vegetable peeler, peel skin off of half a zucchini into thin strips; toss with salt and drain in a sieve until wilted, for at least 20 minutes. Coarsely chop remaining zucchini.

Cook onion and garlic in oil in a 3-4 quart heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add stock and simmer, parrtially covered, until tender, about 15 minutes. Using caution with the hot liquid, use an immersion blender, puree soup with basil.  (If you don't own an immersion blender you can puree soup in 2 batches in a normal blender.)

Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan and blanch peeled zucchini skin 1 minute. Remove skin with a slotted spoon. If your soup is too thick, you can use the blanching water to thin it out.

Season soup with salt and pepper. Serve in shallow bowls with zucchini skin strips mounded on top.

This soup was fantastic, fresh tasting and quick to put together. A few tips if you are making this on a weeknight: since the soup is eventually pureed, the chopping in this recipe does not need to be the most pretty. If you have one, you can chop the onion in a food processor, which I won't usually do because it can emulsify the onion, but in this case its not a big deal. The peeled skin garnish can be skipped, but they are really tasty and add something really nice to the soup, so I recommend making them, it doesn't take very long.

Will scarfed down three bowls before I stopped him--the man was going to eat my lunch for the next day! But then, confession time, I went out for lunch the next day. No problem, I popped the soup in the freezer and ate it nearly a week later, at which point it was still perfection. Though the recipe could be trimmed down (it makes 4-6 servings) I say make the whole thing and freeze, then eat it later with sour cream at work. I promise, co-workers will be jealous.


Squeaky Gourmet said...

oh my what a great and new idea!

TeenieCakes said...

I enjoyed your frankness about the veggie kick and side note (it's true, I don't think my hubby would cook for himself either so he's on my kicks too!). Good ingredients in this zucchini soup and beautifully presented.

Thomas Andrew said...

I've been on a huge zucchini kick myself. Next week my girlfriend and I want to have an all veggie week...and I know I'm going to put this soup recipe on the menu.

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