Food-Soup, Zucchini

Fresh sliced cherry tomatoes are hidden at the bottom of the bowl for a surprise.

There may be more recipes for zucchini than anything else at this time of the year.  Long gone are the tiny, tender and sweet pencil-slim squashes of early summer.  Here now are baseball-bat sized –could I say clubs?–appearing on back porches, in countless loaves of bread, stuffed and broiled, or any of the above.

My basil died while I was gone.  Market had plants 3 for $10 this week. I’m starting over.

Since zucchini is my favorite vegetable, perhaps after asparagus… or maybe green beans…I just don’t care.  I’ll buy or take all I can get and never be tired of it.  Shredded, mixed with egg, onion, and a bit of flour, it’s a supper pancake served with grated cheese.  Slit open, scooped out — the moist innards sauteed with onions, garlic, and pepper–and refilled, I’m thrilled to stick it under the broiler under nearly burned and definitely crispy.  But what I really love to do is make soup.  Any kind. Especially with lots of fresh herbs  Which you knew.   (And the new soup book, Soups & Sides for Every Season truly is done! Available through amazon.com. (edited September 18, 2014)

If it’s a warm day, start early, and chill this soup.  Serve it from a pitcher under the trees in the yard with an icy-cold glass of rosé or pour it into a thermos to take to the park.  Warm it briefly and serve it in the dark of the cool basement watching “The Newsroom.”

Flowering dill.  If you live where dogs take a lot of walks, wash your herbs carefully!

Maybe you’ve been lucky and found some zucchini that somehow–perhaps anonymously– made its way onto your back porch.  As did I yesterday. Actually, I did know mine was from my Victory Garden next-door neighbor.  If not, grab an inexpensive basket full at the market.  Here’s how:

Saint Paul Mac-Groveland bounty

creamy zucchini soup with parmesan and cherry tomatoes

This simple, herb-filled soup is lovely hot or cold (see Cook’s Notes) and contains a surprise of fresh tomato added to the bowl just before serving. The tomato cooks slightly in the hot soup or provides even more textural contrast in the cold.  Along with some sliced fresh vegetables or whole wheat toast, this is a complete summer meal.  While it does contain some half and half and grated Parmesan, the calories are fairly low if you’re serving no other protein.

For vegan option, use vegetable broth and omit cheese and half and half.

               8 servings             3 Weight Watchers Points Plus              160 calories

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons each fresh basil, dill, and thyme, minced plus extra julienne basil for garnish*
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 medium zucchini, chopped (about 4 cups)
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 1/2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup each grated Parmesan cheese and half-and-half or light cream (omit for vegan option)
  • 1/2 cup sliced cherry tomatoes, assorted colors (can used chopped larger tomatoes)
Briefly heat (30 seconds) 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and olive oil in an 8-quart Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add onion, celery, carrots; season with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne. Stir in basil, thyme, parsley, dill, and bay leaf.  Let cook, stirring often, 5 or 6 minutes or until softening, adding garlic during last minute or two.
 

 Add zucchini and potatoes; heat through.  Pour in broth, cover and bring to a boil.  Lower heat to a simmer and cook until vegetables are tender–another 15 minutes or so. Remove bay leaf. 
 
Using an immersion blender, puree in pot or very carefully pulse in batches in a blender or food processor and return to pot. Taste and adjust seasonings.  Stir in Parmesan and half and half, if using, and warm through.  Do not boil. 
 
Add a few fresh sliced or chopped tomatoes to each bowl; ladle soup over tomatoes.  Garnish with reserved basil.  Serve hot.

*Most any one herb or any combination will work if you don’t have all three in the garden.

Cook’s Notes:  For cold soup, let come to room temperature after adding cheese and cream, if using.  Chill for 8 hours or overnight, and garnish with tomatoes and basil when serving.
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For more great zucchini recipes, download  Lydia Walshin’s gorgeous new little and delightful zucchini ebook:
 
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Two-Dog Kitchen
 
At our Colorado house, Tucker (75 pounds) in neighbor Mike’s loving lap.
Sing a new song,
Alyce