Zucchini zest soup is the perfect antidote to late summer sultriness. The cicadas are now in overdrive in the humidity, having changed tune to a constant high pitched drilling. There’s no sign of coolness on the horizon despite the endless days of oppressive, hazy skies. No time like the present to make the most of a summer staple veg with a pep of green lemons and limes; an attempt to cool the temperatures and avoid too much cooking time.
There are few vegetables around in late summer, partly because the shops are slow to get back to business after the major summer shutdown weeks in mid August, and also because the heat is taking its toll on anything apart from the year-round staples like zucchini (courgettes) and aubergines. Tomatoes are still going strong but it’s time to think a bit more laterally although I adore a simple basil and tomato soup.
Since the zucchini were amazingly firm and such a vibrant green, I plumped for those when I shopped. I got the long variety, rather than the totally local round and more variegated striped ones. My soup was so thick as to be a main course on its own; which is in fact how we enjoyed it. Almost a dip in consistency this time as I didn’t want to cook anything more up for secondi. Zucchini sliced up, juice of a lemon, zest of a lime, a diced red onion and some garlic, a good ladle or two of water, a dash of cream, dollop of ricotta and a lashing of Limoncello near the end. Fragrant, zesty and zingy, and easy to make, this zucchini soup is ideal to pep you up as you near the end of long summer holidays (well, three months of school holidays if you live in this part of the Mediterranean!).
Off soon to my folks in cooler climes in Hampshire, UK, where my dad’s courgette harvest is in overload, plants sagging and trailing on the compost under the weight of veg. Might have to miss off the Limoncello for them as none to hand, but if you can add the liqueur it does add some sweetness to off-set the zestiness, and gives it a nice Mediterranean twist.
All images © Liz Ayling 2014
- 6-8 medium, long zucchini (or four round), diced roughly
- 3 tbsps olive oil
- juice one lemon
- 2 garlic cloves, diced
- 1 medium red onion, diced
- 750ml water or stock
- 100ml single cream
- 4 tbsps Limoncello
- 2 tbsps ricotta (to serve)
- Lime – a squeeze to serve plus zest if you like more citrus zing.
- fresh-ground black pepper
- Place the olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan and add the diced onion and garlic. Over a medium-low heat, sweat the onion til softening then add the diced zucchini. Continue to sweat the vegetables, lid half on the pan, til softening well.
- Add the lemon juice to the vegetables, stir for a couple of minutes and then add around 500ml water or stock. You can add more later after blending if you like the soup thinner. Heat to a boil, then simmer gently for around 15 minutes.
- Turn off heat, leave to cool a little, then liquidise in batches to a smooth soup. Return the soup to the pan, adding more water if you like, and stir in the single cream. Just reheat the soup gently, stiring in the Limoncello at this stage reserving one tablespoon. You can serve this soup warm or even cool if you like as it’s very refreshing in summer as a semi Gapazcho.
- To serve, stir in the last tablespoon of Limoncello, and the grated zest of one lime, if you like extra citrus tang. Finally, top with a spoonful of ricotta.
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