This summer vegetable soup ticks all the boxes. It’s cold, tart, slightly sweet, light and refreshing.
Zucchini and corn are summer vegetables that go together. I like to grill them and show off their intrinsic sweet and chewy flavors. Sometimes I don’t have time to set up the grill, so I rely on high heat to roast the vegetables. It’s best to do this early in the morning, so your kitchen stays cool the rest of the day. Also, you need time to cool the soup.
Don’t be alarmed if the vegetables seem piled up on the pan. As they roast, they shrink. Be sure to turn them once while roasting, so they cook evenly. Adding fresh basil leaves after roasting vegetables brings out the sweet and savory herbal qualities of basil.
Corn acts as a natural thickener. You can control the desired thickness by adding more or less stock. Use a blender for best results. If you don’t have a blender, you can use an immersion blender and transfer the vegetables to a large bowl first. When using it, be sure to always keep the chopstick at the bottom of the bowl when mashing so it doesn’t splash all over the place.
Once the soup has cooled, you will notice that it has thickened. Buttermilk is added to balance the sweetness of the vegetables and to help thin the mixture. The corn and basil topping adds a pretty and flavorful finishing touch.
Serve the soup in small glass bowls. You can also serve it as a main course soup by adding chopped shrimp or crabmeat to garnish. I like to accompany this soup with a glazed rose.
Cold Zucchini and Buttermilk Soup
For 6 to 8 people
For the soup:
- 2 leeks, cleaned and light green and white part only, finely chopped
- 8 medium zucchini, sliced
- 2 cobs of corn, shelled and scaled
- 3 tablespoons olive oil or grapeseed oil
- Salt and white pepper, to taste
- 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil
- 4 cups of chicken broth
- 2 cups buttermilk
To taste it :
- 1 corn cob, shelled and shredded
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped basil
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Arrange the leeks, zucchini slices and corn kernels on the baking sheet. Pour the oil over the vegetables and season with salt and pepper.
2. Toss the vegetables until well coated. Roast for 20 minutes, turning the vegetables with a flat spatula halfway through cooking for even cooking. Roast for another 15 minutes or until the vegetables are lightly browned. Cool for 10 minutes.
3. While the vegetables are roasting, prepare the relish: combine the last ear of corn and the 2 tablespoons of chopped basil in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
4. Transfer the vegetables and 3 tbsp chopped basil to a blender or large bowl with the chicken broth; blend or use a hand immersion blender and puree. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Transfer to a serving bowl (or use the bowl you mixed the soup in), cover and refrigerate for about four hours or until chilled; Once cooled, add the buttermilk, whisk to combine and taste for seasoning.
6. To serve, ladle soup into small glass bowls and garnish with corn basil relish.
(Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cuisine. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including “Seriously Simple Parties,” and host of a James Beard Award-winning radio show. You can contact her at www.seriouslysimple.com.)