Roasted Courgette Soup with Lemon and Mint

It’s hard to bemoan the summer harvest when you have lovingly cared for your soil, seedlings, shoots, plants and finally the fruits, but given that I only planted 1 courgette plant this year, I am still struggling to use all my courgettes! I have of course travelled the well trodden path of shredding, spiralling, grating, frying, pickling et all, but just when I had got to the end of my courgette recipe tether, I remembered a truly wonderful soup I enjoyed a year or so back in a small cafe in Beckles, Suffolk in the UK. It was of course the recipe of today’s blog.

Today’s freshly picked courgettes and mint, sadly the lemons were shop bought. If straight from the garden, wash well and then pat dry.

Firstly, trim courgettes and cut approximately into 2 cm chunks. Take 1 lemon, chop roughly into abut 12 pieces. Add to a paper lined roasting tin with some, salt, pepper and a good slug of olive oil. Stir well. Then into the oven.

Meanwhile, peel, trim and finely chop some garlic cloves and an onion or too, depending on the size.

You’ll also need to finely grate the zest of a second lemon. Remember if they are waxed, give them a good wash and dry before using.

While the courgettes are roasting you can start frying the remaining ingredients in a large saucepan. Use olive oil and add some salt and pepper to the pan. I like a small pinch of chilli flakes here, but this is optional.

Once the onion has softened you want to measure your chicken stock. I always make my own stock, but you can use stock cubes. I measure the amount I need, then make sure I have a little but more, just in case I need to thin the soup down.

At this stage the courgettes should be nicely browned. Have a peak in the oven and remove them or continue to cook for a while longer, if necessary. You can see in the pic, that both the courgettes and the lemons have charred edges.

Using tongs, pick out and discard the lemons, squeezing any juice back into the pan. Scrape all the courgettes and pan juices into the waiting saucepan, then add enough stock to just cover the courgettes. Bring the pan to a simmer and cook.

While the stock comes to the boil, roughly chop a good handful of the picked mint leaves and squeeze the lemon juice.

And now for my secret ingredient – well obviously not so secret now! I like to add a good slug (about 2 teaspoons) of runny honey. The sweetness is the perfect balance for the sourness of the lemons. Add, taste, then add more if needed.

Once the soup has simmered for a few minutes you can add the remaining ingredients. The soup is now ready to blend – I like to blend it as is, check I am happy with the texture and if necessary, I will add a little more stock and heat through.

RECIPE

Roasted Courgette Soup with Lemon and Mint

Now we are ready to eat. I thorough recommend drizzling another good slug of olive oil over each serve – don’t forget to the bread to mop the bowl clean. Enjoy

Serves: 4

4 large courgettes, roughly chopped

2 lemons

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1-11/4 litres chicken or vegetable stock

A large handful roughly chopped mint leaves

2 teaspoons honey

Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 220c. Cut the courgette into 2 cm chunks and place in a roasting tin lined with baking paper. Cut 1 lemon into similar size chunks and add to the pan with half the oil, salt and pepper. Stir well and roast for 30-35 minutes, stirring halfway through,  or until the courgettes are browned and softened. Discard the chunks of lemon.

Finely grate the zest of the remaining lemon and squeeze the juice into a separate bowl. 

Heat the remaining oil in a saucepan and fry the onion, grated lemon zest, garlic and a little salt and pepper for 5 minutes until soft. Add the roasted courgettes and any pan juices and pour in the stock. 

Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the lemon juice, mint leaves and honey. Process with a stick blender or in a liquidiser until really smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste and serve hot, or if preferred allow to cool, chill and serve cold. 


More summer flowers

I love to seeing the striking yellow flowers of summer squashes, both for the celebration of the season and also to turn into yummy dishes. Sometimes I simply dust them in flower to make into quick and easy fritters, or stir them into a courgette risotto or through pasta. When I am feeling more adventurous or if have friends over for an alfresco supper, I like to go the whole hog and stuff these little beauties, dip them in batter and deep-fry them so the gooey cheesy centres starts to ooze. Here they are served with a herby dip of fresh mint and ground pistachio nuts making a lovely summer starter or light lunch dish.

You can use either the male flowers that have no fruit, just a stalk, or the female flowers if they have small mini courgettes attached.

Stuffed courgette flowers with mint and pistachio salsa

Stuffed courgettes with mint and pistachio salsa

Stuffed courgettes flowers with mint and pistachio salsa

Serves: 6

12 courgette flowers

150 g fresh ricotta

40 g freshly grated Pecorino

1 tsp of grated lemon zest and juice

2 eggs, separated

2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

175 ml sparkling mineral water

125 g plain flour

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp salt

salsa

50 g pistachio nuts

1 bunch fresh mint leaves

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 spring onions, chopped

125 ml extra virgin olive oil

1-2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

salt and pepper

vegetable oil, for deep frying

Preheat the oven to 180c. Start by making the salsa. Whiz the nuts, herbs, garlic and spring onions in a food processor until coarsely ground. Add the oil and puree until fairly smooth, stir in the vinegar and season to taste.

Carefully open the courgette flowers and pick out the stamen. In a bowl mix together the ricotta, pecorino, lemon zest, juice, salt and pepper. Carefully spoon the filling into the courgette flowers and twist the tops together to enclose filling.

Make the batter. In a bowl beat together the egg yolks, oil, water, flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff and fold into the batter.

Heat 5 cm vegetable oil in a wok or deep saucepan until it reaches 180c on a sugar thermometer (or until a cube of bread crisp in 20 seconds). Carefully dip the flowers (and courgettes, if female) into the hot oil and deep-fry in batches of 2 for 3 minutes, turning half way through until crisp and golden. Drain on kitchen paper and keep warm in the oven while cooking the rest. Transfer the courgette flowers to plates and serve with the salsa. 

Tip: don’t be fearful of deep-frying, if you follow the method it is easy. Investing in a sugar thermometer is a good way to ensure a crisp and light batter, they are available from all good cookware stores.