A really good soup
I love soups that combine vegetables, beans and pasta, or vegetables and grains like barley or rice. Dennis doesn't, so this is something I will often make for myself when I eat alone. This week I had an unexpected craving for tarragon, picking up a nice bunch of it at the market, not even looking at the huge and fragrant bushes of basil or the dark green bundles of mint or the squeaky fresh bunches of parsley. Tarragon led to fennel, with its aniseedy flavor that matches tarragon so well, and then there were these bright yellow zucchini and these juicy green asparagus. It really is very easy to be inspired this time of year.
This is a simple soup, but it has a nice layering of flavors from the slow-cooked onions and fennel and the crunch of the barely cooked asparagus. The ovendried tomatoes provide little bursts of intensely sweet juicyness.
I like that the zucchini and beans become very soft and that the asparagus still has a little bite to it. If you want all vegetables to hold their shape, add beans, zucchini and asparagus all at once and cook together for about 7 minutes.
The yellow zucchini looked pretty in this soup (and was cheaper at the market this week than the green kind) but of curse you can use green zucchini instead.
Don't overdo the tarragon, it has a very strong flavor and if you use to much yout soup will taste strangely medicinal.
Zucchini and asparagus soup with beans, fennel and tarragon
serves 2-3 as a main dish, 4-5 as a first course
250 grams small, sweet cherry or plumtomatoes, halved
200 grams cooked flageolet beans or small white beans
2 shallots, chopped
1 small fennelbulb, chopped
1 zucchini, cubed
200 grams green asparagus, cliced into coins
750 ml light chicken or vegetable stock
butter, olive oil
Preheat the oven to 115 degrees. Put the tomatoes, cut side up, on a baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar. Bake them in the low oven for about 60-90 minutes, depending on their size and juiciness. You want to end up with slightly shrivelled and dried, but not completely leathery tomatoes that are bursting with concentrated sweet tomato flavor.
Menawhile: Heat a lump of butter and a tablespoon of oil in a soup pot. Cook the shallots and fennel over low to medium heat for about 15 minutes, until they are soft and slightly caramellized. Add the zucchini, the beans and the stock and bring the soup to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add the asparagus and simmer for another 5minutes. Add salt, pepper and chopped tarragon to taste. Stir in the tomatoes and serve in big bowls, with a swirl of good olive oil on top.