There was a monster in my garden! My stomach turned as I contemplated how to get rid of him. Should I slash at him ruthlessly, cutting him off from his life-supply? Should I preserve and bottle him like a specimen in the museum? Or should I leave him in situ in the interests of science to see how truly monstrous he could actually become? I had turned my back for a week or two and he had swelled and distended himself to become the zucchini magnificent that he is today.
In reality, with a sense of quiet respect I did indeed snip him off from his life-supply and then carried him carefully to my kitchen to ponder how best to show thanks for such a splendid squash. My calls for suggestions (through Facebook) did not go unanswered; the likes of zucchini slice, courgette cake and stuffed zucchini being the most popular and gratefully accepted. I searched the web to further pursue the idea of a stuffed zucchini, but all provoked the most unattractive turned up noses from my family. There was no way I could eat an entire monster-stuffed-zucchini on my own!
The following soup appeared with perfect timing (ie. the zucchini had been sitting there for too many days) and has a simple list of beautiful ingredients that inspired the ‘wanna be’ Italian in me. It’s derived from a Neil Perry recipe, though some of the quantities have been adjusted slightly. I hope you’ll give it a try! I understand it is also wonderful served chilled in summer.
Italian Zucchini & Parmesan Soup
- 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 5-6 Cloves Garlic (Chopped)
- 1kg Zucchini (Diced into 1cm cubes)
- A Couple of Handfuls of Basil Leaves (Chopped)
- Sea Salt and Black Pepper
- 1 Litre Free-Range Chicken Stock
- 100ml Pure Cream
- Handful Flat-Leaf Parsley (Chopped)
- 60g Parmesan Cheese (Freshly Grated)
Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, basil and zucchini, along with a little sea salt and allow to cook gently for about 10-15 minutes, until the zucchini has softened and is lightly golden-brown.
Add the chicken stock and a grinding of black pepper and allow to simmer for a further 10 minutes before removing from the heat. Puree soup in a food processor (leaving a quarter of the zucchini in chunks, to stir through at the end if you prefer). Pour it back into the pot and add the cream, grated parmesan and parsley and stir to combine. Serve immediately with a little extra parmesan and some delicious crusty bread.
- Neil Perry’s recipe calls for green zucchini, though my monster from the garden was of the golden yellow variety and worked beautifully as well.
- Feel free to adjust the amount of chicken stock, if you prefer a thinner consistency of soup.