Meatless Monday: Mark Bittman's Zucchini-Pear Soup

By: Michelle Buffardi

Happy Meatless Monday, folks. Have you accepted the challenge of going meatless once per week? We have. Doing so has health and environmental benefits, plus, if cooking without meat is new to you, it means you'll be adding new, exciting vegetarian recipes to your regular repertoire every week. It also means that one night each week, you won't hear your family whine, "Chicken again?"

This week we're excited about a green soup. It's made with potatoes, so it's quite hearty, and it gets its verdant hue from zucchini, which are in season and very abundant right now. And the green doesn't stop there, the soup is made with pears, perhaps a surprise ingredient if you're used to more standard soups. The pear deepens the flavor of the other vegetables in the puree without a fruity flavor. Garnish the soup, which can be served hot or cold, with a sprig of mint, because at this point, you might as well add a touch more green.

Note: The original recipe calls for either chicken or vegetable broth. If you're going truly meatless, use the vegetable broth.

Get the recipe for Mark Bittman's Zucchini-Pear Soup:

Zucchini-Pear Soup

Recipe courtesy Mark Bittman
Serves: 4 servings

3 tablespoons butter or extra-virgin olive oil, or a combination of both

1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, peeled and diced

1 medium potato, preferably high-starch ("russet" or "baking"), peeled and diced

1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, or a pinch of dried thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 medium zucchini, trimmed and diced
2 medium ripe (but still firm) pears, peeled, cored and diced
4 cups vegetable stock, or use water
Mint leaves for garnish, optional

Put butter, oil or combination in a large skillet over medium heat; when butter melts or oil is hot, cook carrot, onion, potato and thyme with a healthy sprinkling of salt and pepper. Stir occasionally, adjusting heat so vegetables do not brown. When onion is softened, about 5 minutes, add zucchini and continue to cook until everything is tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

Add pear and cook until it has softened, about 5 minutes more. Add liquid and bring to a boil; taste and adjust seasoning. Cool mixture, then puree. Serve cold or reheat and serve hot, garnished with mint, if desired.

Try these other meatless soups:
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