Thursday, August 20, 2009

More fun with the box of squash: Zucchini, Squash, and Basil Soup

As I mentioned in my last post, I recently received a box full of squash and zucchini in the mail courtesy of my father and his garden. I used some of it for a squash, mushroom, marinara penne. I used some more of it for zucchini cupcakes. And I still had about 2 pounds left, i.e. the perfect amount for a soup. To be specific: zucchini, squash, and basil soup.

But, how did I know I had 2 pounds left? Well, I think it is about time you meet my new favorite kitchen acquisition: the scale.

Over the past few months, I keep on having these moments where I wish I had a scale. How many onions equal 2 1/2 pounds? Is this the right amount of crystallized ginger? How much is one serving of penne (I always cook way too much pasta)? And the questions proliferate from here. So I finally decided to buckle down and buy a scale. And I love it! Within the first two days of receiving it in the mail, I used it three times for cooking purposes (and probably 5 or 6 times just for fun). It is one of those purchases that I am going to use all the time and a year from now I will probably think, how ever did I manage without my scale?

Back to the soup. Since I had squash, zucchini, and onion from my father's garden and loads of basil on my porch, I decided to make a zucchini, squash, and basil soup. I was tempted to throw in some tomatoes or potatoes, but in the end I decided I wanted something a bit more 'pure'. And I am so glad I decided to keep it simple. The flavors were elegant, but well-rounded. The color was just beautiful! And it was so easy to make.

As you know, there was Colorado-grown squash and zucchini. And thanks to my kitchen scale, I knew that I had 2 lbs and 2 ounces. Also, since a couple of the squash were bigger, I went ahead and seeded them to try and avoid any bitterness.

My father also included a yellow, white, and red onion in the parcel. So those made it in. And let me tell you, they were so fresh I though I would never stop crying!

Beyond the squash and onion, most of the flavor for this recipe came from 2 ingredients: garlic and basil.

To prepare the soup, saute the onions.

Then add the garlic just before the onions are done. Even when recipes say to add the onions and garlic at the same time, I think that the garlic inevitable burns if you do this. So I have taken to adding the garlic right at the end of the onion-saute step.

Next, pile in the zucchini and squash. And flavor it with salt and pepper.
(How lovely is this color combination?)

Once that gets tender, you add the stock. Bring it to a simmer and simmer for 15 minutes or so.

Add in the basil and let the basil infuse the soup for a couple minutes.

Remove from heat, puree, and you are ready to go!

I garnished it with some small basil leaves and a generous amount of freshly grated parmesan.

Zucchini, Squash, and Basil Soup (adapted from epicurious)

2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion (I used 3 small)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs zucchini and sqaush, halved length-wise and thinly sliced
1 tsp salt (plus pinches for seasoning each layer)
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper (plus pinches for seasoning each layer)
3 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1/2 cup julienned basil

Heat butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute until onion is transluscent, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add zucchini, squash, salt, and pepper. Saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 3 cups stock, bring to a boil, and reduce the heat to low. Simmer, partially covered, for 15 minutes or until the squash is tender. Stir in basil and let that simmer for another minute. Remove from heat and puree. Season to taste.

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