Use up that end-of-summer glut with this velvety smooth soup
Every year we plant courgettes and every year we get a glut. I'm not complaining - they're a really versatile veg, but once we've roasted them, fried them with garlic, added them to spaghetti Bolognese or made a ratatouille there is but one option left to us - courgette soup.
You will need:
Courgettes, roughly chopped - about two biggies or three or four regular ones
50g butter AT LEAST
1 normal-sized onion, finely chopped (I used half a really big one)
1 pint (500mls) really good strong stock - either bouillon powder or chicken stock
Freshly ground black pepper
Splosh of milk (optional)
And here are my courgettes du jour - as you can see, they're no beauties, but that is the joy of soup making. I didn't weigh them, but I'd say the one on the left is what you'd call a 'normal'-sized one and the one on the right, by default then, is practically a marrow...
Now, a word about courgettes. And about this soup, which is delicious, but I'm not going to pretend that, homegrown or otherwise, it's the courgettes that give this dish an ounce of flavour. Courgettes are like that friend that you're not quite sure why you're still friends with them as they are really quite dull, but once in a while they turn up to a party with some really cool friends and you all have an awesome time and in this case, those friends are butter, onions and stock. Don't try and be all healthy and goodie-goodie and think you can skimp on the butter in this recipe - it's a key ingredient. If it were at the courgette party, it would have been the one who brought the best bottle, started the games, told the best stories and complimented you on your hair.
So, we start the soup by gently sweating chopped onion with a massive chunk of butter and a slug of olive oil. You could go full butter, and I would respect you massively for this, but there is still some Puritanical part of me that feels the need to lessen the animal fats somehow, even though, as stated above, the butter is essential to this soup. Sorry vegans.
After the butter has melted, add in the courgettes, roughly chopped (picture below). Stir the pot (you've still got it on a low-ish heat) so that the butter covers all the vegetables. It really is starting to smell quite lush at this point and you realise why you put in half a cow's worth of butter.
Here you can see (left) the veg all sweating away nicely. Once the courgettes are getting a bit translucent, add in your stock. Now, like the butter, the stock is another key ingredient and I can't emphasise enough how important it is to use really strong stuff. For about a pint of stock (I used enough hot water to generously cover the veg) I would use not one, not two, but three heaped teaspoons of bouillon powder, or a mix of two teaspoons of bouillon powder and one Knorr Chicken stock pot jelly thing.
Stir your stock around the veg and let simmer for 10 minutes or so. You can up the heat to a rolling boil for a bit if you fancy.
So, you're almost done. And once you get your courgette soup game head on you'll be doing this from start to finish in about 20 minutes, it really is that quick.
Last step, get the hand blender out, or if you don't have one, then use a smoothie maker - but don't forget that received wisdom is that you allow your soup to cool a bit before whizzing it up like that. Blend until it's smooth and glistening (that's the butter) - it really does have a silky sheen to it that is SO tempting and yummy and I defy you not to keep taste testing it at this stage 'just to check seasoning'. And yes, by all means do add some freshly ground black pepper, but no need for salt - with the strength of stock we used, you'd be mad to add any more.
Milk - meh. I don't think you really need it. Husband has suggested adding chilli to it (I assume he means a few flakes of dried red chilli or perhaps fresh) and although I can see what he means, I'm not on board with that. Perhaps you could go a bit crazy with some more black pepper. But I don't think you need to take anything away from the rich butteriness of the soup. If anything, I'd add more butter in the guise of a generous spread of it on warm bread to serve.
Inspiration came from the most amazing and totally bonkers ring-bound book called Cooking With Courgettes by Susan Carter, although the recipe was donated by Annabelle Cribb. My only deviation from Annabelle's original recipe is that I don't always bother with the milk (she suggests half a pint!) and I don't cook it for 45 minutes. But her insistence on '1/4lb butter (not margarine)' and a three Oxo cube pint of stock is definitely still a defining part of my take on her recipe.
You could go either way with this one. Part of me would want to cut through the butteriness with a Sauvignon Blanc, such as a Sancerre, but then I'd also like to see it sit alongside something rich and buttery, such as a Chablis Grand Cru. Up to you.