Wednesday, August 7, 2013

DeeDee Stovel: The Perfect Lunch on a Hot Summer Day

Since moving to the Bay Area, I have been growing vegetables in my tiny but sunny backyard. One zucchini plant is all I can fit between the tomatoes and cucumbers. But one is quite enough to keep us supplied with two squash a day, which gives me plenty to eat and share. I pick them at about an inch in diameter while the skin is still bright and shiny.

On a hot summer day, the perfect lunch is a bowl of cold zucchini soup on the patio overlooking the tangle of flowers and vegetables that make up my backyard garden. The refreshing coolness of this summer soup relieves the heat of the day, and eating in the garden always makes me smile. Yogurt provides tang, and lemon brightens the mild flavor. Lately, I don’t strain the soup because I like a little texture and the green bits of zucchini skin.

Cold Zucchini Soup
This fine-flavored soup that will surely please your palate is also easy to make.

Serves 8
3 medium zucchini, cut into 2-inch chunks
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of parsley
1 sprig of thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
4½ cups chicken stock (homemade, if possible)
1 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon white pepper
Sprigs of fresh thyme (optional)

  1. Place the zucchini, onion, bay leaf, parsley, and thyme in a medium-sized saucepan with 1 cup of the chicken stock and bring to a boil over high heat. Simmer the mixture for about 10 minutes, or until the zucchini is tender. Remove the bay leaf, parsley, and thyme, and purée the mixture in a blender or food processor until it is of uniform consistency.
  2. For a smooth soup, strain the purée by pressing it through a strainer or sieve with the back of a spoon. An unstrained soup will have a slight texture. Add the remaining chicken stock, yogurt, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, and stir well to blend. Pour the soup into a 1½-quart covered container; chill for at least 1 hour before packing in the cooler.
  3. Garnish each serving with a sprig of thyme, if desired.
For a lovely summer vegetable, cook the zucchini as directed and flavor with salt and pepper. Serve warm with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese or cold with lemon juice.

Recipe excerpted from Picnic © 2001 by DeeDee Stovel. All rights reserved.

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