Early last week I headed out of town for Walla Walla, Washington to attend “Merlot Camp” at Northstar Winery. Before I left though we needed Sunday night dinner. I had a handful of veggies that I had picked up the other day that I knew would go to waste while at camp, so I whipped up a quick and easy soup instead.
A garden fresh zucchini and fennel soup bursting with just picked flavors. Zucchini is in abundance now so buying a lot is inexpensive. If we had the flowers we would have stuffed them with goat cheese, flash fried them and put them on top….an idea for our next night of summer entertaining.
You can leave the soup chunky, but I would recommend pureeing it until the veggies are almost smooth, but still have a bit of texture. It will help all the flavors meld while creating a substantial soup.
Zucchini and Fennel Soup
1 ½ tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 large yellow onion – chopped
3 cloves garlic – chopped
4 medium size zucchini/3 large zucchini – sliced into 1 inch chunks
1 large fennel – core removed, frawns reserved, slice the remaining fennel in ½ inch chunks
4 cups vegetable broth (chicken stock will work also, but the veggie stock is the best choice)
juice and zest of 1 lemon and 1 lime
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped basil
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
½ tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ tablespoon each salt and fresh cracked pepper + any additional to adjust final seasoning
1 cup fat free half and half or skim milk (you can also use cream, but the healthy aspects are a bit negated)
Shredded parmesan cheese or goat cheese to garnish with the fennel frawns
In a large soup pot heat the oil over medium temperature and add the onion, zucchini and fennel, sautéing for about 5-7 minutes, until the veggies begin to soften. Add the garlic, lemon juice and lime juice, vinegar and season with ½ tablespoon each salt and pepper. Cook about 5 more minutes until the veggies are tender. Add the stock, red pepper flakes and herbs. Bring up to a boil then simmer for 10 minutes. Working in batches puree the soup in a blender until smooth, or the consistency you like. Add the soup back to the pot over medium heat and add the half and half and the lemon and lime zest. Stir, incorporating all the flavors, and adjust any final seasonings. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with parmesan cheese and fresh fennel frawns. Serve warm. You could also serve this chilled, just prepare through the puree. Add back to the pot without the heat and stir in the zest and half and half. Refrigerate for at least and hour and a half, to make sure the soup is very cold, and serve. Goat cheese crumbles would be a nice garnish on cold soup instead of the parmesan.