The heat of the summer has been wearing me down. My skin is sticky, lips are parched. I find myself feeling dehydrated, no matter how much water I drink. You may be wondering why then, I have decided to make soup. When we think of soup, we think of warm, comforting goodness. A bowl that heats us from the inside out while nourishing us from within. Lucky for us, there is a whole other world of soup possibilities out there, especially in these dog days of summer.
Cold soups are a godsend when you can’t eat another salad- even for veggie-loving me, that can happen, but you need something hydrating, something that does just the opposite of those rich winter stews- that cools you from the inside out. This cool soup was loosely inspired by cucumber dill soups I had eaten a few times growing up in sweltering North Carolina. We’re in zucchini season, so my fridge is loaded with them. Basil is my essential summer herb; I always need to have a little bit on hand, just in case I stumble upon a perfect tomato or need a little something to make a summer dish really sing. And sing this soup does.
Many cold soups begin with raw ingredients and end with raw ingredients, only getting a quick puress in a blender- tomato gazapcho, for instance- but I found that a quick cook of the vegetables makes for a softer flavor that allows the lemony basil and earthy avocado to standout rather than play second fiddle to pungent onion, sharp garlic, and grassy zucchini. This makes one serving, two if you're serving it as a starter, made more filing by avocado and edamame. It's perfect for when you come home, hot, ravenous, with no one to feed but yourself. It can be eaten warm, cool, or cold, but I find the flavors are most robust when just cool. It is easily doubled or tripled, so it’s the perfect way to make use of that zucchini surplus.
Zucchini and Basil Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
¼ cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ cup frozen edamame or canned chickpeas
1 pound zucchini, chopped
¼ cup water
1 lemon, juiced and ½ zested
generous handful fresh basil leaves
½ avocado, divided
1 tablespoon chopped toasted walnuts, optional
salt and pepper to taste
Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium heat in a medium pot. Add onion, and saute 3-5 minutes or until soft. Add garlic, edamame (or chickpeas), zucchini, ¼ cup water, and a generous pinch of salt. Bring to boil and reduce heat to simmer and cook for 7 minutes or until zucchini is tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool 5 minutes.
Transfer mixture to blender and add lemon zest and juice, basil, ¼ avocado, and remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil. Blend until smooth, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. If mixture is to thick to your liking, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time. If you would like to cool the mixture down and reduce thickness, add 1-3 ice cubes and blend. Cool in refrigerator prior to enjoying or eat warm. Garnish with remaining ¼ avocado, chopped, walnuts, and basil chiffonade. Enjoy! Serves 1 for main course, 2 for starter.