Zucchini season will be upon us before you know it. Yes, yes, I know its only April, but these prolific and versatile little squash appear in gardens suddenly; its best to be prepared! I like ’em as a frittata base, in almost any stir/fry, and in soups. I got this soup from Joel Robuchon‘s French television cooking show called Bon Appetit, Bien Sur and reworked it a bit.
I love the mild anise flavor of this soup. To me, it tastes clean and like spring in a bowl. If you can’t find pastis or ouzo, you can substitute about 1/2 t anise extract. If you don’t care for licorice-y things, you might want to skip this one altogether!
This soup is good hot or cold, I think, and is very pretty to look at. I don’t bother peeling the zucchini. If they are young enough to go in this soup, they will have a firm but delicate skin, and the dark green skin will add an additional shade of green to the soup.
If you want a heartier soup, or if you live in the southern hemisphere where winter is approaching, you can substitute potatoes for the zucchini. Fennel is yummy both ways!
Cream of Zucchini and Anise Soup (Creme de Courgettes a L’anis)
Serve this soup either hot or cold.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb chopped zucchini (from about 4 medium zucchini)
1 large onion, rough chopped
1 fennel bulb, rough chopped (hold the green fronds aside)
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cups water or chicken stock
1 1/2 tablespoons fennel seeds
1 fresh thyme sprig
2 tablespoons pastis, ouzo, or other anise-flavored liqueur or 1/2 t anise extract
salt and pepper
Additional olive oil
sour cream, crème fraîche, or plain yogurt
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add chopped zucchini, fennel, and onion and sauté until onion is translucent, about 15 minutes.
Add the garlic and saute for an additional 5 minutes. Add 2 cups water, 1-1/2 tablespoons fennel seeds and thyme sprig. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer soup uncovered 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat. Remove the thyme sprig from soup (don’t worry if a few leaves get left behind, just be sure all the “woody” part is removed).
Purée the soup with a stick blender or in a processor.
I like a *little* bit of texture, but make it as smooth as you like. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Ladle soup into bowls. Drizzle with olive oil, add sour cream/yogurt/or crème fraîche as desired and enjoy!