August 5, 2004
[Parmesan & Zucchini Chilled Soup]
Well, my birthday buffet just had to have something zucchini, no?
This soup was an attempt to reproduce a soup I recently had at R'Aliment, which has become my first choice of restaurant for a weeknight girls' dinner out with my best friends : excellent food, always different (the menu changes weekly), fresh, light, clean tastes, it never disappoints.
The soup I had in mind was a Délice Froid de Fenouil et Courgettes au Parmesan, which Laurence and I shared the other night while waiting for Marion, who was going to join us as she came out of her African dance class. I decided to try and emulate it, skipping the fennel because I didn't want the slight hint of aniseed.
My version turned out somewhat differently from theirs : this was my first attempt at cold soups, and I suspect that theirs wasn't milk or yogurt-based after all, and probably made from just stock and olive oil. Mine was also a tad spicier than I wanted it to be, which is what's bound to happen when you're preparing three things at the same time and just throw in a chili pepper without tasting it for strength first!
I liked my version nonetheless, refreshing and tasty with its nice zucchini flavors, enlivened by the sharpness of the parmesan and the tartness of the fermented milk.
Velouté Froid de Courgette au Parmesan
- 1 kg zucchini
- up to 4 C (1 liter) of fermented milk (aka kefir) or plain yogurt
- the juice of a lemon
- two handfuls of fresh basil leaves, rinsed
- a splash of olive oil
- 150 g freshly grated parmesan + a few shavings to decorate
- salt, pepper
- one small chili pepper, finely diced (optional)
Wash the zucchini, trim the ends, and cut them in fourths lengthwise. Using a small knife, scrape out the inside flesh where the seeds reside. Steam the zucchini for about seven minutes, until tender. Rinse under cold water to stop the cooking.
In a food processor or blender, combine the zucchini flesh, basil leaves, olive oil, lemon juice, two cups of fermented milk, half the parmesan, and a bit of the chili pepper. Sprinkle in some salt and pepper. Blend together until thoroughly pureed.
Transfer this mixture into a large salad bowl. Whisk in more fermented milk, one half-cup at a time, until you reach the desired consistency : depending on the water content of the zucchini you used, you'll need more or less of it. Taste, and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt, pepper, chili pepper and/or parmesan as needed.
Cover with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours, or overnight. Just before serving, whisk again and sprinkle a few parmesan shavings on the surface. Ladle into bowls or, better yet, pretty glasses.
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