Zucchini and Lettuce Soup With Pesto Recipe

Pesto is the not-so-secret flavor bomb in this soup. . J. Kenji López-Alt

Why This Recipe 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.

Recipe Details

Zucchini and Lettuce Soup With Pesto Recipe

Active 30 mins
Total 40 mins
Serves 6 to 8 servings


  • 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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Serve soup with a generous dollop of pesto stirred into each bowl.

Special Equipment


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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
187 Calories
14g Fat
13g Carbs
4g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 187
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 14g 18%
Saturated Fat 6g 32%
Cholesterol 28mg 9%
Sodium 321mg 14%
Total Carbohydrate 13g 5%
Dietary Fiber 2g 9%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 12mg 60%
Calcium 81mg 6%
Iron 1mg 6%
Potassium 376mg 8%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)