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Zucchini Soup

 1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
 1/2 teaspoon dried whole chile de arbol, finely sliced (available in many supermarkets
   and specialty stores)
 2 tablespoons best-quality olive oil, more for sprinkling
 1 pound zucchini in  1/2-inch slices
 3 cups hot chicken broth
 1 cup frozen peas
 6 to 8 ounces trimmed watercress
 Juice of  1/2 lemon, or to taste
 10 basil leaves, torn into small pieces
 Freshly ground grains of paradise

1. In a large pan, combine garlic, onion, chile, and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Place over
medium heat, and sauté until onion is soft on edges, about 5 minutes. Add zucchini, broth
and 2 cups hot water. Bring to a simmer, and cook until zucchini is almost soft. Add peas,
simmer for 1 minute, add watercress, and remove from heat. Season with salt to taste.

2. Allow soup to cool slightly. Working in several batches, transfer soup to a blender (do
not fill container more than halfway), and holding onto lid tightly with a dish towel purée
until very smooth; begin at low speed and gradually increase to high.

3. Season soup with lemon juice, and adjust salt to taste. If soup is too thick, add a small
amount of hot water. Stir in basil, and ladle into soup bowls. Sprinkle with grains of paradise
and olive oil to taste, and serve. Yield: 4 servings.

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