This deliciously light soup was born of a misunderstanding. I was on safari in the spectacular Kenyan Masai Mara lodging at Basecamp Explorer. One evening our waiter, a characteristically tall thin Masai man named Senit, came to our table to announce that evening’s menu. The first item mentioned, “skinny” basil soup. He continued with the rest of the selections, but I couldn’t get the name of this soup out of my head. My friends and I discussed why the soup might be considered skinny. I was thinking it must be healthy, while others were thinking it must be made with a locally grown version of the Italian basil we all use back home. It must be a new herb called skinny basil!
I had to ask. “Senit, can you tell me about this skinny basil soup? What’s in it?” He proceeded to describe the soup as being made with the vegetable that is “like a cucumber, but softer.” And then, it HIT me. The soup wasn’t skinny, it was ZUCCHINI basil soup! My ear wasn’t getting Senit’s subtle and brilliantly accented English! Everyone at our table had a good laugh, on me.
The first thing I did when I returned home was to see if I could come up with a recipe for that soup. Mine retains the original name (if not the charm of that moment). This soup is simple, satisfying and low-calorie. I figure it fits the description, no matter which way you look at it!
Skinny Basil Soup
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 medium to large zucchini, chopped (if large, remove the seeds)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock or water
- 1 large bunch basil, chopped
- (If you don’t have a lot of basil, you can add any green herb such as parsley, or even cilantro)
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup half and half (optional)
In a large pot on the stovetop sweat the onion and zucchini in the olive oil with a little salt and pepper. Add the garlic being careful not to brown it. Add the stock or water and the herbs. Simmer for about 10 minutes until all the vegetables are soft. Off the heat, use an immersion blender or blend the soup in a blender or food processor until smooth. Return to the pot and put onto a low heat. Taste for salt and pepper. You can add the dairy at the end if you wish, but I found the soup to be just as creamy and satisfying without it. Keep warm until serving.
Tastes like summer to me!