Sunday, September 7, 2014
Zucchini and Goat Cheese Soup with Basil & Lemon: A Favorite Dish Successfully 'Souped' for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays
Sometimes, when I eat something that tastes really good, I stop and think, 'can I soup that?' Can I take that combination of flavors that really appeals to me and turn it into a bowl of soup? Nigel Slater's Zucchini with Basil and Goat Cheese on Toast, a dish I posted earlier in the week, is one of those flavor combos--everything that's good about summer in a bite. I thought it would make a great-tasting soup so I decided to explore and see if anyone else thought so. I found several different variations of zucchini soups with goat cheese online but ended up falling for Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Courgette and Goat's Cheese Soup with Basil from the Guardian. I liked its brothy, yet creamy appeal and since it had much of what I was looking for to 'soup' this dish, I just slightly adapted it by adding in lemon juice and zest and topping it with crispy toasted croutons. Exactly what I was craving and with the same great taste of the zucchini toasts--this dish can definitely be successfully 'souped'!
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall says, "Quite an unusual soup: thick, velvety, yet light. It's lovely chilled, too."
Zucchini and Goat Cheese Soup with Basil & Lemon
Adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall via TheGuardian.com
2 Tbsp olive oil
1kg (2.25 lbs) very firm small courgettes, sliced 3-4mm thick
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
About 750ml (about 3.25 cups) whole milk (or use half milk, half veg stock)
1-2 bay leaves
100g (3.5 oz) rindless mild goat's cheese
Basil leaves (or mint, if you prefer)
(I added the zest and 2 Tbsp juice from 1 lemon)
(I added pan-toasted croutons)
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the courgettes and, once they're sizzling nicely but before they start to brown, turn down the heat, season with a little salt (it helps draw out the moisture) and cook gently, stirring often. As they become tender, break them down a little until they have softened almost to the point of mushiness; this can take up to half an hour. Add the garlic when the courgettes are almost done, so it gets a chance to cook but not burn. You should end up with a fragrant, garlicky, rough courgette puree. (I added the lemon zest and juice at this point.) Leave it coarse like this, or blitz in a food processor if you prefer a less chunky soup.
While the courgettes are cooking, put the milk in a pan with the bay leaves. Bring up to just below boiling, then leave to infuse.
Stir the cheese into the courgette mixture, then strain in the hot milk a little at a time and stirring all the while, until the soup is a consistency you like (I like mine fairly thick). Bring the soup scarcely to boiling point, season and ladle into warmed bowls. Top with a good trickle of extra-virgin rapeseed or olive oil, and a few shredded basil leaves (and grilled croutons and additional crumbled goat cheese if desired).
Notes/Results: Rich and decadent without being too heavy, this is a wonderful bowl of soup with great flavors. I did use half milk, half veggie stock in mine and thickened it by pureeing a couple of cups of the zucchini mixture and stirring it back in. The added lemon juice and zest brighten things up and the grilled croutons add a crisp contrast. In addition to the goat cheese blended into the soup, I crumbled a bit more on top with the shredded basil. One of my favorite zucchini soups so far--I would make this again.
Good friends and their dishes await in the Souper Sundays kitchen--let's take a look.
It's nice to have Graziana of Erbe in Cucina back at Souper Sundays after a blogging "holiday." She brings hearty Vegetarian Chili with Herbs and says, "I like chili and I create often new recipes, like this one with yams instead of meat. When I harvested my Longbow leeks, some of them were thin with a big bulb: I used five of them instead of a garlic clove in this recipe."
Mireille of Chef Mireille's East West Realm shares two Ecuadorian soups with us this week. First this creamy Locro de Papa or Potato-Cheese Soup. She says, "Locro de Papa is a traditional Ecuadorian soup made of potato and cheese. In traditional times when people could not afford cheese, peanuts would be used instead. It originates from the Andean region of Ecuador. ... I really enjoyed this soup as it was not as thick and heavy like American style potato-cheddar soups."
Mireille also made a flavorful fish soup, Beche de Pescado, saying "This soup is not to be eaten as a starter, rather on its own as it is more like a hearty stew. With a squeeze of lime juice and a spoonful of aji criolla, it's the perfect balance of flavors and after this hearty bowl for lunch, you won't need anything for the rest of the day except maybe a little cafecita and a small snack at merienda (Latin America's evening tea time)."
Janet of The Taste Space shares this refreshing Cucumber and Tomato Salad with Garlic Tahini Dressing and says, "Easing back into cooking in Toronto, I tried to highlight local, seasonal vegetables. We arrived too late to grow our own garden but we had a little help from family. These cucumbers were courtesy of Rob’s mother’s garden and the tomatoes came from my sister-in-law’s parents’ garden. The dressing was a simple lemon-tahini-garlic combination that pretty much never fails. Although the twist was adding some olives. I don’t use them very often but it was an unusual and nice accent to the creamy dressing."
My friend Kim of Stirring the Pot is here with a crispy Chicken Po'boy and says, "To be perfectly honest I wouldn't normally turn to a British cook, like Nigel Slater, for a Chicken Po'Boy recipe. However, Nigel's recipe seemed like a good jumping off point and I did happen to have all the ingredients on hand. ... The result was perfectly golden strips of fried chicken nestled in a hot crispy baguette with lots of shredded lettuce and mayo. Every bite was heavenly. This sandwich is decadent, comforting, and satisfying on so many levels."
Thanks to everyone who joined in this week. If you have a soup, salad, or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on the sidebar for all of the details.
Have a happy, healthy week!