Summer is definitely here. Not that you’d know it by the weather, which dampened many plans this holiday weekend. But when 4 pounds of zucchini showed up in my CSA delivery, there was no mistaking the season.
Nestled among the turnips and lettuce and broccoli were three varieties of squash: yellow summer squash, dark green zucchini, and a lesser-known round summer squash with a light-green skin. Last year, in my first year of a CSA, I admit I didn’t know what to do with the round one. Now I’ve learned to use it in any zucchini recipe where you don’t need to showcase aesthetics. While the round one lacks the bright green pop from the skin and has more fleshy “insides”, it has the same mild flavor and can be eaten cooked or raw.
Faced with so many pounds of the stuff, I pulled out a recipe for Creamy Basil Zucchini Soup that had caught my eye last year in Sunset. Never having tasted zucchini soup before — it doesn’t headline many menus — I was a little hesitant, but I assumed that the generous cup of basil would save the day, if indeed the day needed saving. Another similar recipe from the June 2008 issue of Gourmet contains just 1/3 cup of basil for the same amount of zucchini.
Turns out, I had no need to worry about the soup. The zucchini is mild enough that it allows the basil to shine through with loads of summery goodness. After sautéing an onion and simmering 2 pounds of zucchini in chicken broth until tender, you puree it in a blender, resulting in a surprisingly thick and creamy texture. Indeed, if I had ordered it in a restaurant, I would’ve guessed the soup included potatoes or rice as a thickener. The recipe calls for pouring the soup through a strainer but I prefer a bit of texture and chose to leave some bits of zucchini and basil. In Gourmet‘s version, the soup is topped with blanched julienned zucchini — a nice touch, but an extra step that a busy home cook like me doesn’t have time for!
Click here for the recipe for Creamy Basil and Zucchini Soup.