The flavor of this soup will knock your socks off! And it's had with such ease, owing to the basil being added at the very end, after the soup is cooked. The recipe is adapted from my friend Brian Huggler from downstate, who had it published in Patricia Wells' The French Kitchen Cookbook.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
2 pounds zucchini, trimmed and cut in 1-inch slices
4 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Big handful basil leaves
1/2 cup heavy cream, lightly whipped (unsweetened)
In a stockpot or 8-quart pot, heat the olive oil over low heat until it is hot but not smoking. Add the sliced onions and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Sauté the onions for about 8 minutes, or until they are soft and translucent, but not browned, covering them and stirring occasionally.
Add the zucchini to the pot along with the chicken or vegetable stock and season with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the zucchini is softened.
Remove the soup from the heat and allow it to cool, uncovered, for at least 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to release steam. Stir in the fresh basil leaves just before pureeing. In a blender, puree the soup in batches and return to a clean pot. Or, use an immersion blender to puree the soup in its pot.
Taste and add more salt and pepper, if needed. Serve the soup heated through, at room temperature, or chilled.
To serve, top each bowl of soup with a small dollop of the whipped cream.
I just returned from a whirlwind couple of days in Las Vegas. Saveur magazine hosted a group of food bloggers receiving their "Best Food Blog" awards.
The awards are a terrific honor, and the trip? Unheard of. Most of the time we are working in rather solitary environments, the creative and often upside-down worlds of our kitchens strewn with props and cameras and lighting equipment, along with simmering pots and rolling pins and flour (the camera lenses' worst enemy!). Even the most famous bloggers among us don't often get wined and dined and gifted with kitchen bling the way we did out in the desert last week.
I came away with an affirmation of the respect I already had for my fellow food bloggers, each of us with a different passion that motivates us to do what we do despite the risks to career and pocketbook. I also came away with a newfound respect for one of if not the greatest of the Las Vegas hotels, the Bellagio. We were toured "where no visitor has gone before"-that is, behind the scenes in the Bellagio kitchens where the best dim sum chefs hail from China and exceptional pastry chefs from France to make every last morsel served in the hotel...from SCRATCH. And where a master sommelier took us on an "art and wine pairing" tour of the hotel's museum of fine art. Now that's a museum tour I'll take any day!
The bloggers descended on Vegas from Australia and England and the Netherlands, from California and New York. What great pleasure I took in heralding where I came from, Harbor Springs, and describing just where and who we are. My pride-of-place was evident; when we parted, more than one of my new friends expressed hopes to make it to northern Michigan someday.
Our sponsors (I prefer to say "hosts"), in addition to the hotel, included revered brands like Le Creuset cookware, Highland Park whisky, and Talenti gelato (yes please!). What do you award a food blogger with? Not a statue, no. A frying pan, of course, inscribed for the occasion.
After a few days of sin-city blasts of equal parts scorching heat and chilling air conditioning, and eating and drinking too much (I won't throw gambling into that line-up; I lost a hand or two, and that was that), a food blogger is more than happy to head back home to her own kitchen and fledgling herb garden.
Here she can get back to the world of cooking, making a Vegas-detoxifying healthy and delicious spring bowl of soup-one that reminds her how lucky she is to do what she loves, in a place that inspires, among the kind of community she's always blessed to come home to.