With summer zucchinis growing in abundance this time of year, I am always looking for ways to use them outside of my go-to recipes.
One of my favorite ways to eat zucchini is sautéed for just a few minutes with a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Or if I’m grilling burgers on the grill, I like to add a few zucchini spears for a healthier alternative to French fries. For those gigantic zucchinis that are commonly found at farmers markets or backyard gardens, zucchini bread is great to make and share.
Last month, I had the privilege of experiencing a cooking class with Romney Steele of the infamous Big Sur restaurant, Nepenthe, in Northern California. During this hands-on class, 15 of us were paired in groups of two and in charge of cooking a farm-to-table recipe created by Chef Steele. We used only vegetables made available to us from the ranch garden. I was charged with preparing a zucchini and fennel soup which was a crowd favorite. It was flavorful and surprisingly rich considering the soup contained very little olive oil – just enough to sauté the onions.
Pureed with non-fat plain Greek yogurt, this soup had many layers of flavor working together harmoniously. I would have never have thought to pair fennel with mint, yet the two ingredients together provided a tantalizing taste with every spoonful. The two ingredients also made a beautiful garnish that looked fancy, which is always a nice touch to any meal.
Today I am sharing with you an adapted version of the soup I made during the cooking class with Chef Steele. The soup serves six people as a starter course or can be enjoyed as a main course for three to four people.
Recipe: Healthy Zucchini Fennel Soup
A great vegetarian zucchini recipe that is healthy, low in fat, and delicious.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
- 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
- 3 medium zucchini, diced in ½-inch cubes
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 cups water
- ½ cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt plus more for garnish
- 2 small sprigs fennel greens plus more for garnish
- 10 (2-inch) mint leaves plus more for garnish
- Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot on medium heat. Add the onions, fennel, and salt. Sauté the onions for 5 minutes until soft.
- Add the zucchini and garlic. Sauté for an additional 5 minutes.
- Add the water and cook the vegetables for 15 minutes on a low simmer until the zucchini is fork soft.
- Carefully transfer the mixture, yogurt, fennel greens, and mint to a blender.
- With a tight fitting lid on, puree the soup on low speed. Keep in mind the soup will be hot and must be pureed on a very slow speed so the steam inside the container does not explode. Once the blender has been running for 10 seconds, increase the speed to the fastest slowly. Puree for one minute. Season with additional salt if necessary.
- Serve immediately and garnish with a small dollop of yogurt, fennel leaves, and mint.