Zucchini and Leek Soup
- Servings: makes about 1 quart
I recently came upon several articles that discussed a zucchini soup from a cookbook by Gwyneth Paltrow. On the face of it, the soup sounded like it should have been terrific, but some articles noted that despite the soup’s appeal, it was rather tasteless. When I saw its ingredients, I understood why – the soup was made only with water and basically no seasonings and since zucchini has a pallid flavor, it was bound to disappoint.
But I liked its nutrition, simplicity, and flavor potential. So without adding any fuss to its making, I’ve tweaked the ingredients, using stock instead of water, and adding a small touch of butter at the start to add a little silkiness, and I think the result is quite tasty. Other than the butter, the soup has no dairy; if you wanted to, you could add a few tablespoons of heavy cream or yogurt, although I think any additional dairy would mask the lovely freshness of the soup’s flavor. It can easily be vegan by using a good quality vegetable stock and leaving out the butter and upping the evoo to 3 tablespoons.
If you have a favorite fresh herb, you could add a tablespoon or two of minced herbs just before serving. Chives or tarragon would be nice. I also like to pass a bottle of hot sauce to boost its heat.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 large leeks, the white and light green parts only, sliced very thin and rinsed well
- 3 garlic cloves, sliced thin
- 3 to 4 medium zucchini (about 2 pounds) sliced thin
- 2 to 3 cups chicken stock
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- Optional: minced fresh herbs (e.g., tarragon or chives), hot sauce
- Add the olive oil and butter to a large soup pot that has a cover. Place over medium heat until the butter has melted and the oil/butter combination is hot.
- Add the sliced leeks, the sliced garlic, and a pinch of salt. If the leeks are still damp from being well-rinsed (remember that leeks can be very sandy and must be thoroughly rinsed), it doesn’t matter. Stir the sliced leeks and garlic into the hot fat, lower the heat to medium-low, and cook until everything becomes very soft and tender but not browned, about 8 minutes. Stir them occasionally so that they cook evenly.
- Add the sliced zucchini, several grinds of black pepper, a pinch of red pepper flakes (the size of the pinch will depend on how spicy you want the soup to be; remember you can always add more later), and another pinch of salt and stir to combine with the leeks and garlic. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and cook until the zucchini slices are soft and tender, about 10 minutes (the time may vary depending on how many and how thick the slices). Stir them occasionally so that they cook evenly and to check on their progress. The cover will retain moisture in the pot (remember that zucchini have a lot of water in them) and help the zucchini to soften.
- When the zucchini is soft and tender, remove the cover and add 2 to 3 cups of chicken broth.
- At this point the soup is ready to be puréed. Your goal is to create a fully blended and creamy texture. The easiest way to do this is with an immersion blender but if you prefer, you can use your food processor or blender. Just remember that when puréed, hot soup will rise up in a blender or processor and could overflow and create a burn hazard. So process the soup in small amounts, returning them to the soup pot.
- Taste the soup for seasoning. If the soup is too thick, add more chicken stock. Return to a simmer.
- You can serve the soup immediately or cool it to room temperature and decant into storage containers. It keeps, refrigerated, for about five days. You can serve the soup either reheated or chilled, with a bottle of hot sauce on the side.