Summer is a great time for chilled soup. Zucchini plentiful at the farmers’ market and in grocery stores, so it is a natural “base” for a refreshing first course, or the centerpiece for a soup and salad meal. My easy recipe uses yogurt and mint as the other main flavors in the soup, with a bit of garlic and scallions for a little zip.
If a recipe calls for 3 medium zucchini or 2 scallions, how do you know if your zucchini are medium or how big the scallions should be to provide the amount intended? In this recipe, I describe the number of zucchini, but also provide the volume (cups) measurement. Weight would be more accurate than volume, but it is not common in American recipes and you may not have a kitchen scale. Most recipes that use garlic call for a certain number of garlic cloves. (Cloves are the individual pieces in a head of garlic.) If your cloves happen to be gigantic or tiny, consider using a different number of cloves to approximate the amount if your garlic cloves were medium sized.
Chilled Zucchini and mint soup – 2 large (12 ounce bowls) or 4 small (approximately 6 ounce cup) servings. Total cost – just over $5 for 2-4 servings
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1-2 cloves garlic
- 2 medium-large scallions or green onions (½ – ¾ cup)
- 3 medium zucchini (approximately 4 cups of zucchini chunks – see picture below)
- 1 cup boiling water
- ¼ cup chopped fresh mint, densely packed
- 8 ounces of Greek-style or drained plain yogurt (I prefer low fat. No fat yields a less rich-tasting soup and “regular” yogurt yields a much richer-tasting soup.)
- 1 – 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
- Salt and pepper to taste (preferable white pepper, which is light colored and finely ground, so that pepper doesn’t show in soup)
- Hot sauce (optional)
- Cutting board
- Measuring cups – both types (for hot liquid – pyrex) and solid food
- Measuring spoon
- Pan with lid
- Press the garlic and set it aside.
- Wash the scallions, zucchini and mint and dry them – setting each aside separately.
- Chop the scallions by holding them lengthwise and cutting them into small ringlets.
- For the zucchini, slice each one into half length-wise, then cut each one in half again length-wise to make four long “rods.” Gather the rods together and cut them in the other direction, so you get chunks about ½ inch thick.
- The mint can be roughly chopped.
- Put 1 tablespoon of oil in the pan and heat it. Add the garlic and scallions. Cook them for about 2 minutes on medium heat until they are beginning to soften.
- Add the second tablespoon of oil, heat a bit, then add the zucchini chunks. Cook the zucchini, scallion and garlic mixture on medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Do not let it brown; it should be cooking so that the pieces of zucchini get softer and wet looking, sometimes called “sweating” the zucchini.
- While that mixture is cooking, boil water. After the zucchini has sweated for 10 minutes or so, pour 1 cup boiling water into the pan. When poured into the pan, the water will stop boiling because the mixture cools it down temporarily. Bring the water back up to a boil, cover the pan and lower the heat. Cook the mixture at a simmer (low bubbles around the edges) for 10 minutes.
- Uncover the pan, and let the mixture cool to the point where it is not steaming. Left in the hot pan, the mixture will take a long time to cool, so I transfer it to a bowl. To speed the cooling process even more, you can sit the bowl in a larger bowl or baking pan of ice cubes and water.
- Pour approximately a third of the mixture into the blender, making sure to include some of the liquid. Blender to a smooth consistency. Add the chopped mint and repeat the blending until all of the mixture is smooth.
- Add the yogurt, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Mix with a spoon or blend for just a few seconds.
- Pour into a bowl, cover and chill for at least 3-4 hours in the refrigerator. Again, you can speed the chilling process by putting the bowl (while it is in the refrigerator) in a larger bowl or pan containing ice and bit of water. Add additional salt and pepper (if necessary) once it is chilled.
- To serve, add a bit of fresh mint (small whole leaves or coarsely chopped) on top of each bowl. The soup is mild. For a spicier taste, offer hot sauce such as Tabasco or sriracha hot chili sauce along-side.