Chilled Courgette and Basil Soup

It is almost too hot to eat. The hottest day for 41 years apparently. There is only one thing that sounds enticing. Chilled Soup. This delicious and vibrant Chilled Courgette and Basil Soup will cool you down.

Chilled Courgette and Basil Soup

Serves 4

2 onions, peeled and finely sliced

4 courgettes, cut into thin slices

Extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

sea salt and ground white pepper, to taste

1¼ pint water (or chicken stock)

2 tablespoons crème fraiche

2 tablespoons good quality pesto or make your own (recipe below)

A handful of spinach leaves, rocket or watercress

Cream or olive oil to serve

Fry the onion gently with plenty of olive oil in a heavy-based pan over a medium heat. Add the courgettes and a good pinch of salt and continue to cook for about 20 minutes, until the courgettes are completely collapsed and beginning to caramelise. Add the garlic and fry for a minute more. Season well with salt and pepper and add the water and pesto. Bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and add the leaves. This will make your soup an appetizing green. Liquidize with a hand blender. Stir in the creme fraiche and adjust seasoning. Add more pesto if necessary.  Serve with a swirl of cream or olive oil.

Pesto

½ a clove of garlic, chopped

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 good handfuls of fresh basil, leaves picked and chopped

A handful of pine nuts, very lightly toasted

A good handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Extra virgin olive oil

A small squeeze of lemon juice (optional)

Pound the garlic with a little pinch of salt and the basil leaves in a pestle and mortar, or pulse in a food processor. Add a bit more garlic if you like, but I usually stick to ½ a clove. Add the pine nuts to the mixture and pound again. Turn out into a bowl and add half the Parmesan. Stir gently and add olive oil – you need just enough to bind the sauce and get it to an good consistency.

Season to taste, then add most of the remaining cheese. Pour in some more oil and taste again. Keep adding a bit more cheese or oil until you are happy with the taste and consistency. You may like to add a squeeze of lemon juice at the end but it’s not essential. Try it with and without and see which you prefer.

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