Vegan Chilled Zucchini Basil Soup Recipe

There’s a great vegetarian restaurant by my office that makes delicious chilled soups.  Last week I had their zucchini basil soup which had a really mellow zucchini flavor, infused with lots of bright basil.  The soup was creamy and filling, but contained no dairy other than a few tablespoons of butter.  We have had quite a bumper-crop of zucchini from our crop-share so I was inspired to recreate this one at home.  I found a recipe for zucchini garlic soup from Kitchn, which had great reviews so I used that as my base, and adapted it by adding basil.  I used purple basil from the crop-share, which altered the color and bit so I added some baby spinach to retain the vibrant green color I was after.  The result was a fresh, summery chilled soup that the whole family loved – including my 17-month-old daughter.

Make this soup vegan by using a vegan butter spread in place of the butter (it will add more flavor than olive oil, but you could use that instead).  Serve this soup as a starter for a summer al fresco dinner.  Double the recipe if you’d like; leftover are great for lunch and will even freeze well.

Zucchini Basil Soup

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 large onion, diced

8 large cloves garlic, chopped

4 medium zucchini (about 1 ½ lbs.)

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

½ cup baby spinach

½ cup fresh basil (or more)

½ tsp. salt

fresh-ground black pepper, to taste

basil springs, as garnish (optional)

1.  Melt butter in heavy 4-quart pot over medium heat.  Add onions and garlic after butter begins to foam.  Sweat onions and garlic over medium-law heat until onions are soft and translucent, about 10 minutes (keep heat low enough to prevent garlic from browning).

2.  Add zucchini and cook until soft.  Add broth and bring to boil, then reduce to simmer over low heat for 45 minutes.  Remove from heat, add spinach and basil, and cool slightly.  Using an immersion blender, puree until creamy, or use puree in blender in small batches.  Serve soup chilled or reheat over medium heat until warm.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with basil, if using.

Serves 4 (about 1 ½ quarts total)

Cooking Tips:

  • If the soup is still hot when transferring it to the blender, open the center of the lid for the blender slightly, while holding it over the hole as the mixture is pureeing.  This will allow the steam to escape.
  • This soup can be made 1-2 days in advance, as the flavor actually improves after a day or two in the fridge.