Friday, September 17, 2010

Zucchini-Basil Soup: Simple yet amazing

I love recipes that are bare-to-the-bones simple but yield amazing results.
   Such is the case with Zucchini-Basil Soup from Gourmet magazine.
   It’s a creamy soup, but it’s made without cream! And there are no complicated tricks to make it so – it’s just the richness of the zucchini that does it.
   However, my husband and I have altered the recipe slightly over the dozens and dozens of times we’ve made the soup.
   The recipe calls for a large amount of water. On a whim one day, my husband decided to use up some vegetable broth that was hanging around in the fridge in place of some of the water.
   It was a good change – the taste improved (although it was good before). Since that time, we’ve used about two cups of vegetable broth (the ready-made kind you buy in the soup section of the supermarket) and one cup of water in the soup instead of three cups of water.
   Also, we long ago dropped the julienning of zucchini to put on top of the soup.
   It’s extra work that doesn’t add anything to the final product.
   We entirely skip the step of peeling half the zucchini and blancing it.
   So, instead of two pounds of zucchini as the recipe calls for, we only use one.
   We only follow the parts of the recipe that pertain to making the soup itself. I’ve paraphrased them below.
   Three-quarters of a cup of chopped onion and two chopped garlic cloves are cooked. The recipe says to do this in a heavy saucepan; we use a tall soup pot because of the steps that are coming up.
   One pound of chopped zucchini and one teaspoon of salt are added and cooked. Then three cups of water (here’s where we use two cups of vegetable broth and one cup of water instead) are added and the mixture simmered for about 15 minutes.
   Add 1/3 cup packed fresh basil leaves, then puree the soup. You can do this in two batches in a blender (as the recipe says, use caution with hot liquids), or with a hand blender (this is what we use.)
   Serve and revel in the joy of simplicity.

Other great recipes using zucchini:
Penne with Zucchini, Fresh Herbs and Lemon Zest
Shaved Zucchini Salad with Parmesan and Pine Nuts

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