Last Updated on July 25, 2021
Courgette and Parmesan soup is a real taste of summer for me. Best made with homegrown courgettes (zucchini if you are from the USA) that are packed with flavour, it’s an easy, low calorie and low-fat soup. Make it vegetarian by using any good vegetarian cheese, make the vegan version by leaving out the cheese altogether. Courgette and lemon soup (without the cheese or butter) is equally delicious and cries out for a few sourdough croutons! These soups are super quick to make (half an hour from pan to bowl) and can be adapted with any other fresh green ingredients – a handful of peas, some rocket or a bunch of fresh parsley all work particularly well. But, in its simplest form for this recipe, you need an onion, oil and butter, a couple of courgettes, some stock and a lemon. Then, just a few shavings of Parmesan cheese to go on top.
It’s the time of year when the courgette season has started in earnest. Each summer I promise myself that next year I won’t plant so many. By the following spring, I have a windowsill full of baby triffids and, in some kind of misplaced compassion, I can’t bring myself to consign any one of them to the compost pile. They get planted out in my ‘really not big enough for courgette’ garden and they spread across every planter and raised bed. Each morning I get up to see if I have boys or girls in flower. I harvest the boys if they are ‘at the dance alone’ and put them carefully in poly boxes in the fridge. If you were not already aware, courgettes do need flowers of both sexes to produce fruit – pollen from the male courgettes needs to find its way to the female flowers. Those gardeners with rows of courgettes can let bees and other insects do the work for them, but if you are limited in space like me, you need to hand pollinate. Get it right and you’ll be rewarded with plump green courgettes in a few weeks. If you fail, the baby fruit just shrivels and dies. I’ve already harvested a few courgettes this year so I guess I am doing something good!
Once you’ve found a couple of plump courgettes, get the rest of your ingredients together. Dice the onion and the courgette neatly. Zest the lemon and put to one side.
Melt the butter in the oil over a moderate heat and add the diced onion. Let it soften for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the onion is translucent add the courgette pieces along with the lemon zest and some black pepper and continue to cook for a further eight minutes. I don’t add salt at this stage because I tend to use marigold bouillon for stock which is already seasoned.
I like to use marigold stock (a vegetarian bouillon) for courgette and Parmesan soup because it’s easy to control the strength of the liquid. Two level teaspoons in just over half a litre of boiling water is the perfect amount for this recipe. You could also use light chicken stock or homemade vegetable stock if you prefer, but, try to avoid anything that is too strongly flavoured. In an emergency, water would be fine too. Once the stock is added to the pan stir well and bring the mixture to a gentle simmer, then taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary before cooking for around 10 minutes then blending with an immersion or stick blender. If you like, you can remove a few pieces of courgette before blending to add textural interest. Once your soup is blended, squeeze through the lemon juice and check the seasoning again. Add shavings or a grating of fresh Parmesan and enjoy with a crusty bread roll.
With many of the soup recipes I make, the Instant Pot is invaluable to cut down the cooking time. But, this recipe for courgette and Parmesan soup is so quick and easy I prefer to make it on the stovetop. Since much of the effort is in pre-softening the courgettes and onion in oil and butter, I find I can control the temperature better and also watch for the perfect moment to add the stock. It’s very important not to brown the onions or you’ll end up with a grubby looking soup.
You can freeze this recipe before adding the Parmesan. It works well as a cold summer soup too. And, it’s very low calorie, so perfect if you are trying to lose a few pounds of weight!
Here’s the recipe to print out
Courgette and Parmesan Soup with Lemon (Zucchini and Parmesan Soup)
- 2 medium courgettes about 600g weight
- 1 lemon
- 600 ml stock
- 1 medium brown onion
- 15 g Parmesan shavings
- 10 g butter
- 10 g olive oil
- Peel and dice the onion
- Trim and dice the courgette
- Zest the lemon
- Melt the butter with the oil in a large stockpot
- Add the onion and cook gently for 5 - 10 minutes till completely soft and translucent. Stir occasionally and do not let the onion brown
- Stir through the lemon zest and courgette dice. Season with black pepper
- Continue to cook gently for 5-10 minutes
- Add the hot stock, bring to a gentle simmer and taste to adjust the seasoning
- Simmer for 10 minutes till the courgettes are soft and tender. If you like, you can reserve a few pieces of courgette for each bowl
- Blend with an immersion/stick blender.
- Stir through the fresh lemon juice, taste and season
- Serve with freshly shaved Parmesan cheese
For me, this is the perfect summer soup. If you want to cut the calories further, then you can use just 5g of butter and oil and omit the Parmesan altogether. And, if you need to make a vegan version, then omit the butter and use vegan cheese instead of the Parmesan. It’s light and refreshing yet somehow very filling.
If you are looking for a more substantial soup recipe do try my spicy tomato and lentil soup