Why It Works
- Rice thickens the soup without muting its flavor.
- Pesto adds a big jolt of more flavor just before serving.
After coming home to a late-summer glut of garden produce, with a container full of pesto and a pile of zucchini and lettuce at my disposal, I did the only reasonable thing and put them all together. The result is this creamy, bright summer soup, packed with flavor from a dollop of pesto stirred into it just before serving.
- 2 tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter
- 1 medium onion, chopped (about 6 ounces; 170g)
- 2 medium stalks celery, chopped (about 4 ounces; 130g)
- 1 large carrot, chopped (about 4 ounces; 130g)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon (about 3g) whole coriander seed
- 1/2 teaspoon (about 2g) fennel seed
- 1/4 cup dry rice (about 1 1/2 ounces; 50g)
- 1 pound zucchini, split in half lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 2 large zucchini; 450g)
- 6 ounces lettuce or spinach, washed (about 6 cups packed leaves)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 cup (120ml) heavy cream
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh basil leaves (1/4 ounce; about 7g)
- 1 teaspoon (about 3g) fresh lemon zest
- To Serve:
- 1 recipe pesto
Melt butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and carrot and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until vegetables are softened but not browned, about 8 minutes. Add coriander, fennel seed, and rice and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add zucchini and stir to combine. Add lettuce, a handful at a time, stirring until wilted, until all the lettuce is incorporated.
Add bay leaves and heavy cream, then add enough water to cover all of the vegetables (about 2 quarts/1.9L). Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until rice is tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in basil and lemon zest.
Working in batches, transfer soup to the jar of a blender. Start blender on low speed and gradually increase to high. Continue blending until completely smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Pour into a clean pot and repeat with remaining soup. Season soup to taste with more salt and pepper as necessary.
Serve soup with a generous dollop of pesto stirred into each bowl.