Summer is for Cold Soup
A summer soup to be made when there is an abundance of fresh zucchini, I did this one after having picked some from my friend's garden. I like to keep chilled soup on hand for the days that are too hot for cooking. It makes a light supper or lunch all by itself. Paired with some bread with which to sop up the last of it and a little cheese and fruit to finish, it becomes more than a light meal, it is all you want when the summer days grow sweltering.
I did this one outdoors using a midsized slow cooker. I didn't want the heat of cooking in the house.
First, turn on the cooker to high, and cover the bottom of it with a thin pool of olive oil. When it's hot (you know because you smell the aroma of the oil) put in two or three crushed cloves of garlic. While it's flavoring that oil, chop up an onion, some carrot, and some green pepper or celery to make mirepoix. The ratio for that is half as much carrot, and half as much celery or sweet pepper, as you have onion. You don't have to measure. Just do it by eye.
Take the garlic out of the pot and throw it away. What you have left is garlic oil, which has a subtler, finer taste than the garlic itself would had you left it in. Throw in your mirepoix along with some salt and pepper. Stir it around to mix and oil its ingredients. Add a bay leaf. If you want it, add a small hot pepper as well. Cover the pot and go do something else for a while.
Once the aromatics are softened, but before they become mushy, peel and cube enough zucchini to fill up the pot. If they're big ones, you may want to remove the seeds, too, but you don't need to do that if they're young. Throw it in and stir it all up. Go away again.
When that too has softened, but before it darkens in color, pour in enough stock just to cover everything. Vegetable would be best with this, I think, but I had none, so I used chicken stock. It took three cups or so. Let that get hot.
When it starts to bubble, add some herb. This soup is bland without something to give it flavor. I used spearmint, which I grow, and which goes well with zucchini. Some like curry. Let your own taste be your guide.
Fish out the bay leaf and if you used it the hot pepper. Throw them too away. Get out ye olde stick blender and puree your soup to whatever smoothness you like. It will be thick and, well, soupy when you're done. Correct the seasoning. You'll probably want to add salt.
You can eat it hot, right out of the pot. It's best chilled on the next day, though. That's what it's for, anyway.
I spooned some plain yoghurt on top after it was in the soup bowl. That adds a satisfying fullness to it. Sour cream would work just as well, even better to some tongues, but it's a lot fattier. Some paprika sprinkled over it adds color and a nice touch of flavor. A sprig of mint on top of the yoghurt gives it a nice look and aroma, and if you want you can eat that, too. A glass of cold cider washes it down perfectly.
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