By Bonnie S. Benwick
Special to The Washington Post
Zucchini Soup With Parmigiano-Reggiano and Basil
Makes about 6 3/4 cups (4 to 6 servings)
This recipe dispenses a goodly amount of summer's prolific vegetable: lightly caramelized, then simmered and pulverized. The result is almost too thick and chunky to be called a soup, but that means it's substantial enough to serve for dinner.
You can top it with cooked, shredded chicken and a dollop of pesto for the very hungry omnivores among you. The quantity makes next-day leftovers a reality.
Serve with crusty bread. Adapted from "Franny's: Simple Seasonal Italian," by Andrew Feinberg, Francine Stephens and Melissa Clark (Artisan, 2013).
8 medium zucchini
1 medium Spanish onion
6 to 8 scallions
Leaves from 4 to 6 stems flat-leaf parsley
3 cloves garlic
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
3/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
About 6 large basil leaves, plus more for garnish
2 cups water, or more as needed
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for garnish
Trim the zucchini ends, then cut each vegetable into chunks. Finely chop the onion, scallions, parsley and garlic; piling them together is okay.
Heat 1/4 cup of the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add one-third of the zucchini chunks and stir to coat. Cook for a few minutes, just until the bottom side is golden and lightly caramelized, then transfer to a mixing bowl. Repeat two more times (no need to add more oil) to use of all the zucchini.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pot. Once it shimmers, add the onion-scallion mixture and stir to coat. Season with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Reduce the heat to medium; cover and cook for about 8 minutes, so the vegetables soften.
Coarsely chop the 6 basil leaves.
Return the zucchini to the pot, then season with the remaining teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Stir in the water, which will not quite cover the zucchini. Increase the heat to high and cook just until bubbles form at the edges, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for about 12 minutes. The zucchini should be soft but not disintegrating. Stir in the chopped basil.
Use an immersion (stick) blender to puree the mixture into a thick soup that retains some small chunks of zucchini. If it's too thick for your liking, add water as needed. Remove from the heat. Taste, and adjust seasoning as needed.
Divide among individual bowls or deep cups. Tear a few basil leaves over each portion, then grate a little Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese over each one as well. Serve warm or at room temperature.
NUTRITION Per serving: 180 calories, 4 g protein, 12 g carbohydrates, 14 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 430 mg sodium, 4 g dietary fiber, 6 g sugar