Zucchini basil soup.

So, what have you all been doing with your zucchini lately?  Baked goods? Fritters? Maybe grilled, or roasted, or raw?  It seems there’s so much zucchini come mid-July that I quickly exhaust all my zucchini recipes by August.  After a few weeks of summer, I could go a year at least without setting my eyes on the squash.  But not this year.  This zucchini basil soup will keep zucchini in my kitchen as long as the farmers are growin’ it.

It’s fresh, creamy, with a soft but certain hit of basil.  The zucchini acts as the base (and the texture if you add julienned strips of zucchini skin) but the basil’s the star; which is a good thing, as basil here in Western NJ has been on this summer.

It seems that every farm market in town is flush with basil—spicy, sweet, verdant basil—and one market is selling theirs for 99¢ a pound, damn-near giving it away.  I just hope that everyone has the good sense to make soup.

The soup is quick to make, but plan a bit of time for your julienned zucchini skins to wilt once you set them aside in a sprinkling of salt, so that later when you have them in the soup they’ve got a good texture, and won’t turn to mush.  It would also help to have a handyman like Howard.

While being quick to make is a plus, man if I wouldn’t cook all day for this soup.  Once you sit down to a bowl, you’ll understand.  It’s immediately delicious, fresh and vegetal, creamy without any cream, and then there’s a long finish that’s full of basil and a touch of salt, a taste that clings to your tongue and reminds you of sweet grass, and garden herbs, and summer.

And I’m sure your heard me, I said creamy without any cream.  Without cream, or butter, and with a piddlin’ ¼ cup of olive oil, this decadent soup is healthy undercover.  A big added bonus for the season of bathing suits and short shorts, since hamburgers and coleslaw seem to have forgotten that I’m trying to fit back into my bikini.

Zucchini Basil Soup

serves 3-4, from Gourmet, July 2008

  • 2 pounds zucchini, trimmed and cut crosswise into thirds
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 cups water, divided
  • 1/3 cup packed basil leaves

Julienne skin (only) from half of zucchini with slicer; toss with 1/2 teaspoon salt and drain in a sieve until wilted, at least 20 minutes. Coarsely chop remaining zucchini.

Cook onion and garlic in oil in a 3- to 4-quarts heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add chopped zucchini and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Add 3 cups water and simmer, partially covered, until tender, about 15 minutes. Purée soup with basil in 2 batches in a blender (use caution when blending hot liquids).

Bring remaining cup water to a boil in a small saucepan and blanch julienned zucchini 1 minute. Drain in a sieve set over a bowl (use liquid to thin soup if necessary).

Season soup with salt and pepper. Serve in shallow bowls with julienned zucchini mounded on top.

30 thoughts on “Zucchini basil soup.”

  1. Thanks for reminding me – I had this bookmarked eons ago, but was in the process of a break-up, so totally forgot about this recipe! This looks so delicious.

  2. This soup looks creamy, delicious and pretty to boot! What did you use to julienne the zucchini skin? A knife? The lengths are so perfectly uniform. I’ve got to try this recipe… thanks.

    1. I have a julienne peeler–like a Y-shaper peeler but with the ability to julienne. I hate one-purpose gadgets in my kitchen, but this one is worth the couple bucks.

  3. Okay, I’m so making this. Zucchini in the garden is just about to explode — I’ve been visiting it tirelessly the past couple days, watching the tiny fruits lengthen. Thanks for putting this up! I love basil too, and the simplicity of the ingredients…remind me to report back!

  4. Miles Slack’s farm, on Forest Grove Rd. in Furlong (Buckingham Twp., about two miles from Buckingham Valley Seafood) has some wonderful summer squash, including a variety of Italian zucchini. Unlike the smooth-skinned variety, the Italian variety has an almost stellate shape when sliced. I’ve been sauteeing them in extra virgin with salt and pepper and serving it with just a pinch of grated parmesan. Since the Italian zucchini seems to have a higher sugar content, I’m going to bet your soup recipe will do great with it. I will try it this weekend.
    I also bet it will taste great served with a crisp rose. If you go to Slack’s Farm (aka Center Farm, to distinguish it from Miles’ brother’s farm (called Fred Slack’s Farm), be sure to say hello to Miles’ wife, Wanda, who runs the farm stand and is a jewel in the crown of Bucks County. Tell her I sent you!

  5. I’ve been burning it as kindling… Okay, maybe not. But seriously, it’s getting to that stage. This soup recipe will help prevent them from hitting the pyre. I love the idea of zucchini as the delicate background for the bright basil — lovely!

  6. Sounds wonderful. I have fresh basil in my garden and my friend just gave me some zucchini. I am going to make chocalate zucchini cake too.

  7. I must share a corny Minnesota joke:

    Q: Why do people lock their car doors in summer?
    A: So no one can put zucchini in the back seat.

    In case you haven’t guessed, in Minnesota and points west where I grew up, no one ever used to lock their doors. Zucchini was so common in the summer I got tired of it and haven’t been able to eat it since.

  8. wow! I haven’t been here in a while.. your images are looking great and the blog is on fire! nice simple soup. good call on oil as the fat. if no stock then you got to have it.

  9. hey stranger! love to see it’s looking so great over here. I hate to admit I’ve had to throw out so much squash this summer b/c of lack of time to make it all! i love this combo since basil is one of my all-time fave herbs. but i’m just as interested in that bowl! what a beauty!

  10. I have never being a big fan of zucchini soup however yours looks quite romantic (by the pictures shown) and tasty. I think I have to give zucchinis a second chance.

  11. I just received my first share of veggies from our local farm co-op, and there was both basil and zucchini it it. My search through http://www.foodgawker.com brought me to your site.
    This recipe was exactly what I was looking for – and it was awesome!
    I followed the recipe to a T…with one exception – I added a splash of lemon juice just because I thought it would go well.
    Thank you for posting this recipe, it was perfect.
    My husband thought crab meat added after blending would be something to try next time. I agreed to try it since there most definitely will be a next time and a next and a next…

  12. this soup is most excellent. I just finished making it for the 3rd time. I do add a bit of chicken base to it. No other changes however.

    Thanks for posting it.

    Hugh in Dallas

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