Zucchini Vegetable Soup

At Agriturismo Belagaggio, Ada and her daughter Antonella have perfected the art of soup-making. They impress Tuscan Women Cook guests with deceivingly simple preparations that deliver flavor and comfort. Take their Zuppa di Ceci, Chickpea Soup. It looks so modest, a plateful of golden purée. But the flavors meld into a warm hug in a bowl. First, they soak dried chickpeas overnight. (No canned chickpeas used here.) Then they simmer them until tender. They thoughtfully cook thinly sliced aromatic vegetables, lots of garlic, and fresh sage in olive oil until translucent. Once all the ingredients are combined, they purée the mixture using a high-powered immersion blender. When eating this soup, hints of spice and garlic pop.
Such soups echo ancient traditions in Tuscany where large families could be fed from humble ingredients such as leftover bread, dried beans, and bountiful in-season vegetables. A splash of extra-virgin olive oil made from the fruit of the valley enhances their flavors. (You’ll find several zuppa recipes in our Tuscan Women Cook cookbook.)
We are grateful that this season, the Bernardini’s shared their recipe for zucchini zuppa. When making this recipe, select tender, small to medium size zucchini. They have the brightest flavor. Cut all the vegetables into ¼-inch-size pieces. Small pieces help the vegetables cook evenly. Be sure to cook the vegetables until they are uniformly tender. To get a creamy purée, use a high-powered blender or food processor.
Enhance the taste of this bowl of pale green velvet with a grating of Parmesan cheese. Herb or Parmesan croutons would contrast nicely too. Or reserve a half cup of the cooked vegetables to sprinkle on top of the zuppa before serving.
Course: Soup
Servings: 3 quarts

Ingredients

  • pounds zucchini, 5-6 medium sized
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed
  • 2 cups onion, finely diced
  • cups celery, finely diced
  • 2 cups carrots, fine diced
  • salt
  • freshly-ground pepper
  • Parmesan cheese, optional

Instructions

  • Trim the ends from the zucchini. Cut them into long ¼-inch slices. Cut each slice into thin strips, then chop the strips into ¼-inch dice.
    Heat the olive oil in a wide deep skillet over medium low heat. Add the diced onion, celery, carrots, and zucchini. Cook over medium low heat, stirring from time to time for 20 to 25 minutes until softened. Add more olive oil if needed to keep the vegetables from sticking or browning. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper.
    Purée the cooked vegetables until smooth and creamy in a high-power blender or using an immersion blender. Adjust the seasonings to taste.
    Serve in warmed bowls drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil and a grating of fresh Parmesan cheese.