Courgette and Garlic Soup + Cheese Biscuits

Courgette and Garlic SoupGrowing up in Maine, I was very familiar with the knowing smiles that accompany zucchini season. The story in my memory goes like this:

Every year, zucchinis start arriving from the garden in July, and the counter tops begin filling up. There is a wonderful month in which zucchini either plays the star role – in savory fritters, frittatas, summer pasta dishes – gets sliced, diced or grated into pickles, relishes or chutneys for later months, or is tucked into less obvious dishes – pancakes, chocolate cake, breads, you name it (oddly, for a child who disliked vegetables so much, I loved baked goods that included sizable amounts of the green stuff. Parents of fussy eaters take note, great recipes don’t stick around for generations for no reason.).

Around mid-August, the story goes, grocery bags of zucchini start showing up on porches. Maybe your neighbor came over with genuine intentions of catching up, or maybe she made an excuse to come by and happened to be carrying with her a large bag of zucchini (it’s plausible – you’ve seen the counter tops). With a smile, you kindly refuse, saying you’ve also been lucky with your harvest this year, but thank you very much. She smiles as well, nodding knowingly, but the bag remains on your porch. It’s the same every year.

What I never understood was how this vegetable gets to out of hand every year, but having lived many garden-less years now, I can appreciate the desire to over-plant this favorite of mine. If we had the space, and the sunlight that fill these memories of summer for me, I would likely fall victim to the same glut.

Maybe someday…

Today’s soup is adapted from The Kitchn‘s Zucchini and Garlic Soup. For those keeping note, I’ve called it by its French/used-by-these-islands name above, but it is the same vegetable.

I wanted to double the recipe to make sure we had enough for guests, but when it came to adding the stock (calling for 8 cups!) I decided to halve the liquid and see if I wanted to add more later. We did not. This soup is fantastic with twice the vegetables and the same amount of liquid in the original recipe. This may be a personal preference, but our guests agreed unanimously. Use as much stock as you like, obviously more will result in a thinner soup than in the picture.

If you have time to make this a day before, you’ll benefit from the flavors melding together much better. Reheat what you need just before serving.

Courgette and Garlic Soup - overhead
Courgette and Garlic Soup
Adapted from The Kitchn

Serves six to eight as a main course

8 Tablespoons (115 g) unsalted butter
1 large onion, sliced
15 garlic cloves, sliced thinly (this seems like a lot, but trust it)
8 medium courgette, about 3 1/2 pounds (1.5 kg), chopped or sliced
4 cups (about 1 litre) vegetable stock (I used one Kallo organic vegetable stock cube in 4 cups of boiling water)
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
Salt and pepper to taste

To Finish
1 cup Greek style yogurt
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a large, heavy pot. Once the butter foams, add the sliced onions and sauté 2-3 minutes until beginning to soften. Add the courgette and garlic and keep sautéing the vegetables until all are softened, about 10 more minutes. Keep an eye on the heat, and keep stirring, to make sure the onions and garlic are not browning. (At this point, because this was how my day went, I set the vegetables aside and picked up at the next step after a few hours.)

Once all the vegetables are soft, add the stock and bring the mixture up to a gentle simmer for 45 minutes. Take off the heat, allow to cool slightly, and purée with an immersion blender until smooth (alternatively, transfer to a blender in batches – never more than 1/3 full – and blend until smooth).

Add the ginger, salt and pepper to taste. Either leave overnight for a more flavorful soup the second day or serve immediately.

For serving:

Combine yogurt, olive oil, salt and pepper and allow to rest in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Prepare each bowl with soup and a dollop/swirl of yogurt mixture.

This week, Laura brought cheddar biscuits, which were delicious. Here are some notes she sent along:

In terms of this recipe, the only thing I would change is the amount of salt I put in. I would probably only put in half this amount next time but I guess it is personal preference. I also only used mature cheddar cheese rather than extra mature! Next time I would also be keen to add in some chopped spring onions as I think this might be nice. I would add them just before the cream gets added. I would also add that be warned: when you add the cream it becomes a thick mixture really fast. If not all the mixture is sticking together go back and make sure every last drop of cream is in. I had this problem but when I added the last few drops of cream it brought all the mixture together.

Cheddar Scones
Cheddar Biscuits
Adapted from Mrs. Bishop’s Bakes and Banter and Gordon Ramsay

Makes about 12-15 biscuits

375g plain flour
1.5 Tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt (this is the amended amount)
Freshly ground black pepper
100g mature cheddar cheese, grated
2 spring onions, white and light green parts only, chopped finely
600ml double cream
30g unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 160ºC and prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl and add salt and large grinding of black pepper. Stir in grated cheese and spring onions. Make a well in the middle of the bowl, pour in the cream and stir gently, mixing until a dough forms (this forms a very thick dough, but if all the double cream is added, it should come together).

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead gently until the mixture is incorporated fully. You don’t want to overwork the dough here or it will not rise properly.

Lightly flour a rolling pin and roll the mixture out to a 2cm thickness. Using a 5-6cm cutter (or the edge of a glass), stamp out as many circles as you can, dipping the cutter in flour between each cut.

Place the circles onto prepared baking sheets with about 2cm between each to allow for expansion during cooking. Set the tray aside for 10 minutes before baking. (either bake the remaining dough as is, or form into loose shapes – try not to overwork the dough too much, though)

Brush the top of the biscuits with melted butter and bake for about 30 minutes, until golden brown and well risen. Transfer to a wire rack and serve warm or cool, but preferably within a day or two.


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