Tomato and zucchini soups, both fragrant classics of summer dining. Two simple summer soups stunningly served together to impress…and to save you choosing! The dividing line doesn’t need any tricks of photography or complex sleights of hand either [read on].
Tomatoes and zucchini rule supreme all summer long in Malta. Tomatoes are now at their peak and most succulent and fragrant. I eat them every so often straight from the fridge they’re so tasty. Zucchini, an all-year-round vegetable, with summer varieties edible as crudités or as a carpaccio with a squeeze of lemon, so sweet they are right now. We’ve made mixed veg grilled salads with them to the hilt so I opted for a summer soup duo this weekend for a change; not served piping hot, but also not like a Gazpacho with ice cubes either. I am just not keen on cold soups despite the heat that’s building as we enter the second week of July.
Yin-Yang needs some explaining for what seems humble tomato and zucchini soups. My son, quick as a flash gave it this inspired name. When I served this up first time, without thinking too much about it, the ladles of tomato and zucchini curled around in the soup bowl embracing each other in perfect yin-yang shape. My next servings didn’t quite ‘bend it like Beckham’ or yin-yang but nearly met at the circumference. I had intended dead centre, but bendy is better I think. To achieve a meeting point, bent or near straight, simply make one soup thicker than the other and ladle in the thicker soup first from one side of the bowl [don't dollop straight in the middle, in other words]. The thicker soup takes time to spread out, so quickly as you can, ladle in the thinner (tomato in my photos) and it will edge up neatly to the other.
I did think about rigging up some strong divider, perhaps of stiff cardboard, down the middle and might try that next time to achieve a perfect central line. If chilling the soups, you could arrange soups in the bowls cold and then reheat each in a microwave. I’ll post updated photos here if I get a better bend or straight line!
This soup duo got the thumbs up from my men even though younger man is not known to eat tomatoes (raw ones anyway). So praise indeed that he loved this. The herbs give them a mellow richness and go particularly well with the zucchini; tomatoes, if wonderfully ripe, don’t need the basil but I can’t bear not to eat basil with toms when it’s growing in abundance in my pots. The soups themselves are so simple to make and can be easily reheated next day. Together, they can be served to impress at a dinner party. Their yin-yang look should prove a talking point.
All images © Liz Ayling 2013
Tomato & Zucchini soup recipe
Amounts of the vegetables are approximate as I just use up what’s left in the fridge and add any liquids in stages to achieve the right consistency. I’ve given approximate veg quantities therefore to serve around 6 portions. As the methods are more or less the same for both soups, I written them together.
6-8 large very ripe fresh tomatoes (beefsteak or large plum / round)
6-8 medium zucchini (long or spherical varieties)
2 garlic cloves for each soup
sprig of basil (tomato soup)
sprig of thyme or lemon thyme (zucchini soup)
1 pint approx. / 500 – 750ml water
1 egg yolk (tomato soup only)
300ml single cream (200ml for zucchini soup and 100ml for tomato soup)
1 tbsp red wine vinegar (tomato soup)
fresh-ground sea salt and black pepper.
knob of butter and 2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil per soup
1. Make each soup separately, so find two large saucepans or casseroles with heavy bases and place one knob of butter and 2 tbsps olive oil in each.
2. Prep the veg: place whole tomatoes in a basin and cover with boiling water. Leave for around 5 minutes for skins to loosen, then peel off the skins. I cut straight across the stalk end of the tomato, score vertically around the tomato using a paring knife, and then off both halves of the skin. Cut the whole, peeled tomatoes into medium-sized chunks. Zucchini: simply top and tail stalk and flower ends and dice up.
3. Heat the oil and butter in the respective pans. Add the crushed garlic cloves (2 per soup), and fry gently but avoid browning. Then, add the chopped veg, one to each pan, stir to coat and then cover. Leave to sweat down over a low-medium heat for around 5-10 minutes, checking to see they don’t stick or burn and stir every so often.
4. When veg is softened but still retaining some shape, add the water or stock – around 500 ml to begin with. Stir, and cover and continue to cook for around 10 minutes. Two minutes before the end of cooking, add a sprig of the chopped herbs to each soup – basil to tomato; thyme to zucchini. The soups should be quite thick, or at least one needs to be if you serve as a duo in the same bowl, so adjust water/stock as required.
5. Next, switch off the heat and allow the soups to cool for five minutes before blending / liquidising up. If you don’t wish to have a veloute’ style soup, retain some of the chunks to add later.
6. Return blended soups to the saucepans, add seasoning and more herbs if required and to taste. At this point, add to the tomato soup only, one egg yolk whisked up with the vinegar and 100ml of single cream. Add remaining cream to the zucchini soup.
7. Reheat both soups gently, stirring, but don’t boil up as the cream may separate from the water/stock.
Serve together as described in the post above. Sprinkle with extra herbs and grated Parmesan and drizzle with some cream. I didn’t use many extras on mine as the vegetables had such flavour.