Soup is one of my healthy "tricks". Apart from the comfort value of a steaming bowl of soup, I find it to be a great way to add more veggies into my meals, fill up before the main course and hydrate. I already shared with you my salad secret. Well, in addition to salad, I almost always have a jar or two of homemade soup in the fridge, usually made on the weekend, and ready to be served mid-week, as lunch or with dinner. Huge time-saver on busy days!
In Italy (and many other European countries) soup is a regular part of meals, and generally falls into one of three categories:
(1) Brodo: light, broth based soups that are generally served before a meal - Tortellini in Brodo is one example of this.
(2) Minestra: chunky, rustic soups that might contain rice or pasta, and can be considered a meal in themselves – like Minestrone.
Veloutata is the type that I make most often, and this is one of our favorites - Broccoli and Zucchini Soup. I recently began to float a few lemon slices in the soup as it simmers, and then remove them before I purée the soup. It gives just the right pop of flavor, without a lot of tartness.
Funny thing is, neither of my kids will eat zucchini, but they'll drink up big bowls of this soup. I suppose that's another benefit of veloutata soups - they disguise vegetables, making it easy to trick your children into eating ones that they wouldn't ordinarily eat (rub hands together and insert evil laugh).
And here's a great little entertaining tip that my friend, Susan, taught me. I've used it again and again with this type of soup: set a tray of espresso cups full of hot soup, and serve with appetizers (some easy appetizer suggestions: bruschetta, a cheese platter, olives, roasted peppers, etc. ). It's the perfect amount - just a few mouthfuls - to give your guests a tasty little treat, without filling them up too much. Other perks: no utensils necessary and, best of all, it's a super elegant presentation. (are you thinking Thanksgiving yet??)
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 head broccoli, including the stalks, cut into florets
2 zucchini, peeled and sliced into ½ inch rounds
4 cups chicken broth
3 lemon slices
Salt and pepper to taste
Over medium high heat, heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add the onion and sauté until translucent (about 3 minutes). Add broccoli florets and zucchini and continue to sauté for another 5 minutes. At this point, add the broth and lemon slices, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and allow soup to simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the lemon slices and allow the soup to cool for 10 minutes, then puree (you can use either a standard blender or an immersion blender) until smooth.