This zucchini soup recipe combines fresh zucchini, green beans, and bites of plum tomatoes with creamy polenta. It's the great taste of summer in a soup.
Zucchini belongs to the same family of squash vegetables as butternut squash, acorn squash, pumpkins, and gourds.
While shopping for this vegetable in our local supermarket, I was surprised to find it merely labeled as green squash. Then I learned that shoppers in France find the same vegetable labeled as courgettes, while still other Europeans find it named vegetable marrow, long marrow, and garden marrow.
But no matter what name we give it, zucchini provides us all with vitamins C and E, as well as beta-carotene, folic acid, and several body-fortifying minerals.
Polenta is actually a dish, the Italian version of corn meal mush. This recipe uses instant polenta which is pre-processed corn meal. And just as the name implies, it requires less time to cook than regular corn meal.
But traditionally made, the dish polenta is slow-cooked with constant stirring for an hour or more to develop a deep corn flavor.
As a side note, some cooks are now developing that deep flavor by placing their just-thickened polenta in the oven at a low temperature and only stirring it occasionally.
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1/2 tablespoon dried basil or 1-1/2 tablespoons fresh basil, rinsed and chopped
2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, rinsed and chopped
2 medium zucchini, rinsed and cubed
3 plum tomatoes, rinsed and diced
16 oz. fresh green beans, rinsed and broken in half
4 cups chicken stock, homemade preferred (chicken stock recipe)
2/3 cup instant polenta
(Optional) smoked sea salt to season just before eating
1. Heat - In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering.
2. Add the chopped onion and sliced carrots
3. Season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4. Stir and Cook - Cook for about 8 minutes or until onions are a caramel color. Stir frequently to avoid burning.
5. Add the garlic, basil, and parsley.
6. Add and Cook - Add the zucchini, tomatoes, and green beans; cook for about 8 minutes.
7. Add and Heat - Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.
8. Add and Stir - Gradually add the polenta, stirring continuously to prevent lumps.
9. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the polenta thickens the soup and the vegetables are tender.
10. Serve - Ladle into bowls and serve.
11. (Optional) Provide smoked sea salt for individuals to sprinkle on just before eating.
Smoked sea salt is a finishing salt, and one can best experience its special qualities when it is applied at the end of the preparation process.
Find more great recipes here:
Reader, Laurel. "The Master Gardener Journal." College of Agriculture and Life Sciences | The University of Arizona. Accessed August 24, 2016. http://ag.arizona.edu/maricopa/garden/html/pubs/0403/zucchini.html.
Smith, Jenna. "Polenta: A Better Word for Mush Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious." University of Illinois Extension. Accessed August 24, 2016. http://web.extension.illinois.edu/lmw/eb245/entry_11069.