Chilled Zucchini-Yogurt Soup
It is a new month, my daughter has started preschool again and I am finding myself twiddling my thumbs wondering when I need to go and pick her up. Today was a great relief, knowing that I didn’t have to feed an overtired, fussy toddler, that she would be fed at school, and fed good things, made with fresh veggies from the market. The problem was after the teacher peeled her away from me, I simply didn’t know what to do with myself. I hadn’t made plans for the day, had everything for tonight’s meal in the fridge, the house was clean and most importantly I didn’t need to find a way to burn my daughter’s energy. Truth is I need to find interesting ways to burn my own fuel and need to start spending my mornings in a different way, yoga, painting, something to wrap my mind around. Coffee with friends is also nice.
I feel that way sometimes in the kitchen, the month of August was a pasta filled 31 days, at least that was what was reflected here. I needed a jump start to the new month, the start of school, the new season, so I went with something a little different. I had some zucchini sitting in the fridge, but it is the end of the summer and frankly, I’m over zucchini. I found this recipe on my favorite resource for veggie recipes, NYTimes Recipes for Health. It was different, I tried it, it was good.
I had to use basil, my husband let my mint plant go to dirt when I was in Holland and it wasn’t to be found in Grottaglie yesterday, sometimes you have to settle. I also had to make an extra trip to the grocery store because the yogurt that I bought at the cheese shop, locally made, was sweet despite being labelled “naturale”, not what I was looking for. For such a simple recipe, it took a lot of trips out of the house. Puglia may offer amazing things food-wise, but if you are looking for something specific, even slightly off-season, it is probable that you won’t find it here. There are worse things in life.
Chilled Zucchini-Yogurt Soup
adapted from the New York Times
- 2 pounds zucchini, sliced
- 2 cups water
- Salt (1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons)
- 3 cups plain low-fat yogurt
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped basil (the original recipe uses mint)
- Freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove, pressed or mashed to a paste in a mortar and pestle (optional)
- 1 small zucchini, sliced paper-thin
- 4 mint leaves, cut in thin slivers
Pour the water into a saucepan fitted with a steamer and bring to a boil. Place the zucchini in the steamer, set over the boiling water, cover and steam for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, and allow to cool for about five minutes. Do not drain the steaming water.
Place half the zucchini in a food processor fitted with the steel blade, add 3/4 teaspoon salt, and puree until smooth. Add half the steaming water, then pulse until smooth. Scrape into a bowl, and repeat with the remaining zucchini and steaming water and another 3/4 teaspoon salt. Scrape into the bowl with the first batch. Whisk in the yogurt, the chopped mint, pepper, lemon juice and (optional) garlic. Taste and adjust salt. Chill in the refrigerator or in an ice bath.
Pour the cold soup through a medium strainer into a bowl. In order to extract maximum flavor, use a rubber spatula to press the soup against the strainer and to scrape soup from the outside.
Toss the thinly sliced zucchini garnish with a generous pinch of salt, and place in a strainer set over a bowl or in the sink. Let sit for 15 minutes. The zucchini will soften. Rinse and pat dry. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with several slices of zucchini and a sprinkle of slivered mint leaves.
Yield: Serves four to six
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