perfect summer zucchini soup
this year dylan and i are co-gardening with betsy and jim. what started out as a small endeavor turned into an 8 row mini farm filled with tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, eggplant and a few squash and watermelon. we choose primarily things we would want plenty of for fermenting or preserving (i've got my eye on the tomatoes for a fermented ketchup)! so far, the only thing prospering is the dark green zucchini! last week betsy made a zucchini soup based on her memory of a recipe by Anna Thomas from her book, Love Soup! it had lots of basil and zucchini and feta and was served with lemon wedges. the soup was bright and warming with a fabulous texture. over the next few days i thought lots about her soup. on a visit to the farm to pick up our goat milk i picked up some gorgeously shiny cilantro and a few handfuls of basil. i sat down and wrote this recipe before making it. the soup was an instant hit, dylan and i loved its spicy flavor-fulness! the heat causes a bit of perspiration which then acts to cool you down, a great combo for summer. leftovers are quite tasty at room temperature or served as a cold soup the next day (give it a good whisking before serving). the keys are to not overcook anything and use a delicious broth. the soup is simple and flavored mostly by your broth. we had a rich goat stock, chicken or veggie may work just as well.
perfect summer zucchini soup4 cups chopped zucchini1 onion, chopped3 cloves garlic, chopped1/2 tsp cumin seeds1/4 tsp coriander seeds2 dried cayenne peppers, stems/seeds removed2 heaping cups fresh basil1/2 heaping cup fresh cilantro4-6 cups flavorful brothsea salt* and fresh pepper to tasteolive oil and/or butter1/2 cup feta crumblesAdd the cumin and coriander to your stock pot, turn the heat to medium and dry roast the seeds. this takes a few minutes, watch closely, stirring them often till they brown and give off their aroma. remove the seeds from the pan and set aside to cool.
Add a Tbl or so of oil to the stock pot, turn the heat to medium again and add the onion. saute till the onions first become translucent then brown slightly. add the zucchini and continue to saute adding more oil if necessary and stirring to keep from sticking, 2-3 minutes.
meanwhile, add your toasted seeds and cayenne peppers to a spice grinder and grind to a rough powder. alternatively, crush the seeds with the back of a spoon and mince the peppers. add spice blend to the zucchini and onion saute, stirring it in before following with the stock. begin with four cups, reserving the rest to add at the end if desired. place a lid on the pot and simmer for 10 minutes. the idea is to get the zucchini soft, not mushy. keep an eye on your heat and the zucchini if it begins to dull in color, then its getting to be overcooked.
while the pot simmers: roughly chop the cilantro and basil, set aside. in a small saute pan, melt 1 Tbl butter or oil on a medium heat. add the garlic and saute only for a minute or two until the garlic aroma fills the kitchen, but before the pieces brown. ideally the garlic finishes at the end of the 10 simmering minutes! stir in buttery garlic, cilantro and basil to the soup pot. add salt and pepper start w/ just a bit, 1/2 to 1 tsp salt and a few grinds of pepper. once the pot is simmering again, remove from heat. blend with an immersion blender or carefully transfer to a vitamix or blender. the goal here is not to puree, allowing the soup creamy consistency! give the blender a few spins, so there are brilliant flecks of green and small pieces of zucchini (by small i mean 1/2 the size of a pea)
return to the pot, adjust seasoning to taste. here is where you may add a bit more broth depending on how thick or thin you like your soup. divide the feta between 2-4 bowls, ladle on the hot soup, and grind a little pepper on top. serve immediately, enjoy!
*side note: i tend to under salt in the pot, so that once the feta is added to the bowls you're not over-salted