Marjory Abrams is executive vice president and chief content officer of Bottom Line Inc. Margie is a self-made health nut, voraciously learning from the content Bottom Line publishes—and the innumerable health experts she has rubbed elbows with over the course of her career. Her nightly game of “What’s in the ‘fridge?” has led to innovative, mostly yummy, concoctions that rarely leave leftovers.
I make this soup with all different types and combinations of vegetables instead of (or in addition to) zucchini, including broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, spinach, parsnip, cauliflower, peas, peppers, even lettuce. It’s a great way to use up veggies that are past their prime as well as cooked leftover vegetables that no one wants to eat. I used shallots this time because I happened to have them on hand and they needed to be used, but I often use leeks (even bagged frozen leeks work well) instead of or in addition to onion. I advise against garlic for this soup, because I find it overpowers the herbs.
I also use all different types of herbs—whatever needs to be picked, such as basil, chives and/or parsley in combination with the ones above. I generally always use a bay leaf because it provides such a rich undertone. I personally love this with cilantro or dill, but no one else in my family does, so I’ll often just mix one of them into my bowl at the table. It’s also delicious with mint, but only when I leave out the bay leaf.
Regarding broth, I’ve done this with homemade chicken broth…boxed vegetable broth (as I used here)…even soup powder and water. I haven’t tried it using tea instead of broth, but that is next on my list. I served it with buckwheat noodles as a one-bowl meal. [Hint: While you prep the vegetables, cook the noodles in the soup pot. Clean up will be so much easier with only one dirty pot!]
Zucchini is abundant this time of year, and my herb boxes are overflowing. This soup recipe is an easy and delicious way to use them all. Enjoy it hot or cold (I personally prefer hot). Add a whole-grain starch, and it becomes an all-in-one quick and satisfying meal. Start to finish, this takes about half an hour to prepare.
Here’s what I used for this specific soup…but, as I said above, you can easily adapt it for virtually any ingredients.
Warm up soup pot on medium heat. Note: This amount of soup can normally fit in a medium-sized saucepan, but it’s easier (read “less messy”) to purée in a larger pot.
Add oil, and swirl to coat bottom of the pan.
Add onions and shallots, and sauté about two minutes.
Add zucchini, and sauté about 3 minutes more.
Add broth and herbs, and bring to a boil. Lower heat, and let simmer about 5 to 10 minutes, until zucchini is soft. Add beans. [Hint: For puréed soups, I generally choose white, pink or cannellini beans because they have a mild flavor that won’t affect the flavor of the soup (i.e., bean haters won’t notice the hidden nutrition!) and they blend easily. Warning: Dark red beans tend to make the soup an odd color, but it still will taste good.]