For this week’s Market Matters, I went to the Ojai Farmers Market instead of the Hollywood Farmers Market because I spent a wonderfully quiet weekend there, just plain relaxing at the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa. More coming about this weekend soon.
When I arrived home I was tired, feeling lazy (in that way only a weekend at a spa can bring) but hungry. I looked in my bag and saw zucchini. So, it’s zucchini soup for dinner. But there are many versions of zucchini soup. I needed a soup to fit the season. Most of the zucchini soup I have enjoyed have really been summer soups. Probably because zucchini is such a ‘summer food’. Every gardener in the world knows about late-season zucchini. Big like nothing else in the garden. They are prolific and seem to come from nowhere just as other things in the garden are slowing down. Typically these summer zucchini soups are served cold and creamy.
But this time of year I prefer hot soups. And though zucchini from the garden and at the Farmers Market hasn’t peaked as prodigiously as it will within a few months, you can usually find smaller more delicately flavored specimens. They are perfect for simple soups with just a few ingredients. For me, this is a ‘no cream necessary’ soup– even though sour cream or yogurt is fairly traditional in zucchini soup. But I find that yogurt, certainly, and even cream can overpower the taste of baby squash this time of year.
So I choose to enrich the flavor of fresh young zucchini by roasting it before adding it to the soup pot. These flavors are brightened with sweet spring onion and a touch of mint (though most any herb will work). The soup is finished with just enough grated Parmesan cheese to add depth. To make the soup vegetarian, substitute vegetable broth or water for the chicken broth; in which case you might want to add extra Parmesan for backbone.
Roast Zucchini Soup with Mint serves 6
- 2 lbs baby zucchini, quartered lengthwise
- 1 lbs spring onion or sweet onion, such as Vidalia or Maui, cut into 1‑inch chunks
- 2 T olive oil
- Salt, as needed
- Freshly ground black pepper, as needed
- A small handful of mint leaves rolled tightly, then cut into thin strips (chiffonade), plus more whole leaves as garnish
- 4 c chicken broth (may substitute vegetable broth)
- 3 T freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Combine the zucchini, onion, oil, salt, and pepper to taste in a large shallow roasting pan; toss the vegetables to coat evenly, and spread them in as close to a single layer as possible. Roast for 30 to 35 minutes, turning the spears once until the vegetables have browned somewhat and are tender. Remove from oven. Toss the mint chiffonade all over the vegetables and cover with aluminum foil and let sit for 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring the broth to a boil in a medium-sized pot over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and add the roasted vegetables. Cook for 10 minutes, adjusting the heat to keep the liquid just below a boil, break the zucchini spears up with a wooden spoon as they cook.
Remove the soup from the heat and let it cool slightly. Use an immersion blender to achieve a slightly chunky soup. Add 3 tablespoons of the cheese. Season to taste. Serve warm with a garnish of mint leaves, if desired; or for optimum flavor, refrigerate for no more than 2 days. Reheat to warm and serve– garnished.
SERIOUS FUN FOOD