Last week, I was singing the praises of my friend, Tina, who gave the recipe (more of a method, I suppose) for Fresh corn with Sea Salt and Basil. When I called her the night before the post to make doubly sure she didn’t mind me broadcasting her business, she not only said “no problem” but she upped the ante by giving me another one right over the phone.
She described a soup that sounded easy enough but the lead role went to zucchini. I have always thought of zucchini as an utterly benign food. It is fine. It fills the belly for a bit. But, outside of zucchini bread, which I quite like…mostly because of all the butter I put on top of it, zucchini doesn’t really light my fire. Blah. But, when Tina made corn with no *gasp* butter I was hesitant, too. And, boy was I ever wrong about that one.
I stand utterly and totally corrected. This is my new favorite thing in the world. First, the taste. This is alchemy. I don’t know what happened. But, this soup is flavorful and rich. I think I was fairly restrained with only ¼ cup of half & half. But zucchini has some strange silky property that lifts the whole game. It is as though it emulsified in the food processor without the presence of any fat. I don’t know. But it really doesn’t matter. Because, the second most wonderful thing is that it is ready in a flash. And, the third most wonderful thing is the color of the finished soup is something only Jim Henson and the Muppets could have thought up. It is gorgeous. Oh, and the fourth most wonderful thing is that the ingredients are as cheap as dirt.
I do recommend that you drop $5 on the Better than Bouillon soup base. This can be found in the soup aisle with the bouillon cubes and such. It is somewhat like a demi-glace. It is a paste of sorts. But it has the effect of bouillon cubes without any of the strange flavors that are associated with the cubes. They do not add any MSG and from what I can tell, no gluten either. They have several varieties and I used the chicken.
2 pounds fresh zucchini, cut into pieces
3 Tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 Tablespoon chicken base (I used Better than Bouillon)
¼ cup half & half
½ cup chicken broth or reserved cooking water
Prepare a large pot of boiling water. Add the zucchini rounds and boil them for 3 minutes. (See Note) Drain the zucchini in a colander and set it aside. Return the empty pot to the stove. Add the butter to the pot and allow it to melt over medium heat. When the butter is hot, sauté the onions until they are tender.
Meanwhile transfer the cooked zucchini to the bowl of a food processor. Puree the zucchini until it is smooth. Pour the pureed zucchini back into the pot with the onions. Add the soup base and stir it in with the onions and zucchini. Finally, add the half & half and enough chicken broth to make the soup the consistency that you like.
If you prefer, instead of thinning the soup with chicken broth, you can thin it with some of the cooking water. Simply make sure that you grab a coffee cup and dip out about 1 cup of the cooking water before you drain the zucchini.