Healthy Comfort Food- My Hearty Italian Zucchini Soup
My Italian Zucchini Soup or "Zuppa" is one of my favorite dishes to make. It is SO easy, versatile, healthy, and comforting.... oh and it's vegetarian and gluten free. Whenever you can make "healthy" comfort food, that is delicious AND warming...it's a win-win. My Nanna has been making a variation of this for me since I was born, so it's a Sicilian staple in my family. I've adapted it over the years but I've stayed true to it's honest simplicity. The great thing is that you can make it your own... there are SO many ways to add to the recipe (see tips below) I hope you enjoy it!!
5-6 Medium Size Zucchini
1/2 Diced onion
3 tblsp Olive Oil (Good Italian or Sicilian Olive Oil)
1 Can Cannelini Beans
GRATED (not shredded) Incanestrato Cheese (can use Parmiggiano or Romano)
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1/4 tsp Red Chili Flakes (optional)
Salt and Pepper
2 cups water (can substitute chicken or veggie stock)
Cut ends off of and roughly peel the zucchini (leave a bit of skin on for color and vitamins). Slice lengthwise and again, and chop into cubes (about 1/2 inch each). Put in a bowl, season with a 1/2 tsp of salt and set aside until moisture comes out. (5-10 min).
Next, over medium-high heat put olive oil in a very large skillet or large sautee pan .... Sautee diced onion until soft (approx 2 min) Add the zucchini and cook until softened, approx 5-7 min, stirring frequently. Season with salt and pepper.
Add approx 2 cups of water- or enough to JUST cover veggies. (can substitute with chicken or veggie stock but not necessary... even water will be VERY flavorful) Add chili flakes, garlic powder and turn heat to Medium and cook for approx 4 minutes. While you're cooking, continuously and gently mash the zucchini to release some of the seeds and flesh in order to thicken soup.
Add Cannelini beans and cook for 5 more minutes. Gently mash the beans as well to thicken soup. Season again with salt and pepper.
Once soup has reached desired consistency. Add the cheese (incanstrato is a strong grated Sicilian cheese, it can be very hard to find, so use Parmiggiano if necessary) and chopped basil (about 5 big leaves). Season with more salt and pepper if necessary (more garlic if you like too).
Pour into serving bowls and garnish with more chopped basil and cheese. This is also AMAZING for leftovers. Buon' Appetito!! Makes 4 servings.
Tips: You can also add pasta (pastina), eggplant, fresh garlic, chopped chicken, tomatoes, anything you can think of!! So versatile!