Every summer, the hunt is on for new ways to use zucchini, the squash that seems to proliferate like kudzu. So, this refreshingly different recipe, from “Sunset: Edible Garden Cookbook” (Oxmoor House, $24.95), quickly caught my eye. It’s a perfect way to use up some basil, too, which has been growing like wildfire, thanks to the recent rains and some steady watering.
“Reader Daniela F. Thompson of Lafayette, Calif., got this recipe from her mother, who was a teacher,” Sunset magazine’s editors write. “The students’ parents would bring her mom pounds of zucchini, and this soup was a way to use up all that squash. In summertime, Daniela likes to serve her mother’s soup with sliced tomatoes and hunks of baguette.”
The recipe tells you to purée the soup and then pass it through a sieve, which gives it a smooth, velvety texture. I omitted that step, preferring a more rustic approach. The little bits of both zucchini and basil provide an extra pop of flavor.
Creamy Basil Zucchini Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 pounds zucchini, sliced 1/4-inch thick
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup loosely packed basil, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons crème fraîche or sour cream, plus more for garnish
1/4 teaspoon chili powder, plus more for garnish
Heat oil and onions in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add zucchini and cook another 2 minutes; add broth and basil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook 20 minutes.
Purée soup in batches in a blender. If desired, pour soup through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl, using a ladle to push any solid bits through. Add crème fraîche and chili powder. Season with salt to taste.
Divide soup among bowls and garnish each with a little additional crème fraîche, a sprinkle of chili powder and a few basil leaves.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Approximate nutritional value per serving: 101 calories, 5.5 grams protein, 5 grams fat, 11 grams carbohydrate, 440 mg sodium, 4.7 grams cholesterol.
Adapted from “Sunset: Edible Garden Cookbook”