August and September is the time when many vegetables are at their peak, courgettes in particular grow thick and fast if you are a veg gardener and if you are more of a shopper they’re also in abundance and usually very cheap. This delicious soup takes this simple vegetable and gives it a very Italian twist with Parmesan, Garlic and Basil. It makes a very glamorous dinner party starter or just a great lunch as the soup is easy to make and freezes well.
Olive oil (for frying)
4-5 garlic cloves
Basil (2 handfuls, the equivalent of 2 small supermarket packets)
500ml chicken Stock (or vegetable stock if vegetarian)
50ml single cream (and a little extra to decorate)
Ciabatta loaf (a couple of days old is ok)
Small soft goats cheese of your choice
Salt and pepper
Heat your oven to 200 degrees. Prepare the courgettes by chopping into roughly a 1cm dice, also chop the garlic and basil. (you don’t need to be too careful as you will blend later). Heat some olive oil in a pan, I find that a wok works well as you’ll be adding liquid later and the wok gives you more capacity. Once at temperature add the courgettes, basil, garlic alongside a small amount of salt and pepper.
Fry on a medium heat until the vegetables are soft and a light golden. Approximately 8 – 10 minutes. If your courgettes are particularly large they may give off a significant amount of water, if so drain the water away with a ladle and continue. Once the courgettes are soft add the stock and bring to a simmer. Simmering gently for a further 10 minutes.
Meanwhile slice a small ciabatta into rounds, brush with olive oil, place in the oven for approximately ten minutes. Half way through the cooking time remove the croutons and rub both sides with the cut end of a garlic clove, returning to the oven until golden.
Once the simmering time has ended remove the courgette and stock mixture from the heat and with a hand blender, blend the soup to your preferred consistency (if you like a chunky soup remove a couple of tablespoons of the courgettes before blending and add back later).
Once blended add the cream and the Parmesan, return the soup to the hob and bring back to temperature (be careful not to boil the soup).
Finally slice the goats cheese and top each crouton returning to the oven for a couple of minutes to melt the cheese.
Check the seasoning of the soup and add more if necessary, place into dishes with a swirl of cream and the goats cheese crouton. Finish with a sprinkling of chives and serve.
The soup also freezes well if you want to make this advance.