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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Easy, Elegant Italian: Zucchini Basil Soup and Tuscan Bread Salad

Looking for an easy, elegant Italian meal to add to your repertoire? These delightful recipes from "Savor the Moment" will definitely fit the bill! Creamy, flavorful Zucchini Basil Soup (pg. 119) is delicious paired with Tuscan Bread Salad (pg. 129) made with ripe, juicy tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, fresh basil and cubes of toasted bread. This is actually a panzanella salad, an Italian dish originating in the regions of Tuscany, Umbria, Marche and Lazio that is very popular in the summer months. It includes sliced bread and fresh tomatoes, flavored with basil, olive oil, and vinegar. Ideally, the bread used should be day- to week-old, saltless Tuscan bread made in a wood oven. I used French bread from Publix and it turned out great!

This delicious duo makes for a great dinner for your family or for entertaining friends. Serve with a light, crisp Pinot Grigio and you have a fabulous, user friendly meal! I have included both recipes in this post in the hopes of inspiring some fabulous readers to purchase copies of "Savor the Moment" for you, your family and friends (well, at least for you)! You will not be disappointed! To purchase "Savor the Moment" please click here - Mangia!

Zucchini Basil Soup (pg. 119)
2 cups chopped onions
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 cups chicken broth
14 small zucchini, chopped (about 8 cups)
3 tablespoons uncooked rice
1/3 cup cream cheese
basil leaves
cream cheese
Saute the onions, garlic, basil and thyme in the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat until the onions are tender. Add the chicken broth and zucchini.
Bring to a boil and stir in the rice. Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes or until the rice is tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in the cream cheese until melted.
Process in batches in a food processor for 30 seconds. Combine the batches in a soup tureen and season with salt. Garnish with a basil leaf and a dollop of cream cheese. Serves twelve.
**I halved the recipe and it turned out great!
**I used 1 teaspoon of chopped, fresh thyme instead of the dried
**Instead if transferring the soup to a food processor, use an immersion blender to conveniently puree in the pot you cooked it in - very convenient!

Tuscan Bread Salad (pg. 129)
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 large yellow or red bell pepper, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
6 ounces mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/3 cup coarsely chopped basil
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar
3 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper to taste
4 ounces Italian or French bread
Combine the tomatoes, bell pepper, cheese and basil in a bowl. Whisk the olive oil, vinegar and garlic in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add to the tomato mixture and mix well.
Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes. Spread on a baking sheet. Broil for 1 minute or just until the cubes begin to brown, stirring once. Add to the salad and mix gently. Spoon onto serving plates. Serves two.


  1. Yum! This is a delicious meal...I could devour that salad right now... =)

  2. I love the look and the ingredients in the soup. They sound so comforting right now.

  3. I can't wait to try this soup when my little zucchini plants start producing - it sounds wonderful and so does the salad!

  4. Oh that looks good and 'soup' is my middle name!

    I could so see eating that with the bread dunked, and a large glass of wine, maybe the whole darn bottle! :) This is on my list, the second yummy soup recipe I have seen today!

  5. Oh Stephanie, that soup looks just heavenly! So light and savory and summery. :-) I have zucchini at home and will have to make something like this post haste. :-)

  6. What a lovely soup! I've never made a soup with zucchini but what a terrific idea, will try very soon!

  7. Stephanie, what a nice combination of the zucchini soup with the tomato bread salad. I'm sure it was delicious.


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