The Big Chill: Zucchini Leek Soup

I have an uncle who lives in rural Vermont and grows his own fruits and veggies (another post on sustainability coming shortly). The running joke he always tells is that there is such an abundance of zucchini up there in the summer that people will try to offload it onto each other in any possible way. His word to the wise is never to leave your car unlocked in his area in the summer, as neighbors will literally fill your backseat with their superfluous zucchini crop.

Whether you’ve been the victim of a zucchini hit-and-run, or you just keep seeing it at your local farmer’s market, I highly recommend this chilled soup recipe for a seasonal supper. It’s quick to throw together, depends on fresh ingredients that are perfectly in-season, and is just as good the next day for lunch. I found this recipe originally from Bojon Gourmet, and tweaked it by substituting Greek yogurt for creme fraiche, adding in a whole shallot with my pickled corn, and topping it with sliced avocado. A hint of spice is nice here as well – try sprinkling a bit of cayenne pepper on top right before digging in.

Chilled Zucchini Leek Soup with Pickled Corn and Shallots, Yogurt, and Basil
 Adapted from Bojon Gourmet
Yields: 4 large or 6 small servings
Ingredients
Corn:
  • 2 medium corn cobs, silk removed and kernels cut off cobs
  • 1 small shallot, peeled and finely diced
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
Soup:
  • 3 medium leeks
  • 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon neutral oil (I used safflower)
  • 1 ¼ pounds zucchini (about 6 small), trimmed and chopped into roughly ½″ pieces
  • 1 medium yukon gold potato, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt, more as needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • juice of ½ a lemon
  • 2-3 cups lightly packed basil, roughly chopped, plus a few pretty sprigs for garnish
  • Toppings: unflavored Greek yogurt (I used Fage 2%), sliced avocado, cayenne pepper
Instructions
Make the corn:
  1. Add the shallot to the corn, then toss with the vinegar and salt. Cover and chill until needed, at least 1 hour and up to 1 week, stirring a few times. I did this in a mason jar for easy storage.
Make the soup:
  1. Slice the leeks in half lengthwise, then cut the white and light green parts crosswise into ½” thick pieces. Place the leeks in a large bowl, cover with cool water, and let stand 5 minutes and swishing occasionally; any sandy dirt stuck in the leek’s layers will sink to the bottom.
  2. In a large saucepan or soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Scoop the leeks from their water and add to the pot along with the potato, stirring until softened, 5 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini is fairly soft, 5 minutes. Add the salt, a few turns of pepper, and enough water to just cover the vegetables. Increase the heat and bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, until the zucchini and potato are very soft, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Stir in the basil.
  3. Using a handheld immersion blender (or do this in batches in your blender), blend the soup to desired consistency (I like mine on the chunky side). Add in additional salt and pepper to taste, and squeeze in the fresh lemon juice.
  4. To serve, ladle into bowls and serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt, a scoop of pickled corn, and a few basil leaves. Sprinkle with cayenne pepper for a bit of heat.

 

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