Cooking

Recipe: 4 ingredients and 20 minutes are all you need for great soup

This Sept. 21, 2015 photo shows 4-ingredient Zucchini Soup in Concord, NH. Zucchini, available most of the year despite technically being a summer squash, is full of fiber and offers nice array of vitamins. One medium squash provides vitamin B6, folate and over half our daily requirement of vitamin C, not to mention minerals, such iron and calcium. Zucchini also sports a couple grams of protein. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

This Sept. 21, 2015 photo shows 4-ingredient Zucchini Soup in Concord, NH. Zucchini, available most of the year despite technically being a summer squash, is full of fiber and offers nice array of vitamins. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

By Mellissa d’Arabian, Associated Press

In the farm-to-table food world of today, we often praise the cook who keeps recipes simple, letting the ingredients speak for themselves. Yet once I get started in the kitchen, sometimes I can’t help but add in a final touch, an extra this or that (or two or three) that will make the whole recipe really sing.

This Sept. 21, 2015 photo shows 4-ingredient Zucchini Soup in Concord, NH. Zucchini, available most of the year despite technically being a summer squash, is full of fiber and offers nice array of vitamins. One medium squash provides vitamin B6, folate and over half our daily requirement of vitamin C, not to mention minerals, such iron and calcium. Zucchini also sports a couple grams of protein. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

This Sept. 21, 2015 photo shows 4-ingredient Zucchini Soup in Concord, NH.  (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

So I’ll admit, when I gave myself the task of creating a truly simple weeknight soup, I had to exercise uncharacteristic restraint. In fact, truth be told, I made eight different versions of this soup, half of which I allowed myself to continue to tweak and taste, adding everything from low-fat sour cream and citrus for tang to prosciutto chips and smoked paprika for a smoky edge.

Guess which soup won the taste tests at my house? The simple 4-ingredient version I’m sharing with you today.

Four ingredients is all it takes to create this perfect meal starter. By starting my meals with a healthy veggie-driven soup, I load up my family with vitamins and fiber before the main meal even begins. And since my kids usually arrive at the dinner table racing in from hours of soccer practice or dance rehearsal, they are ravenous. Whatever I feed them first has the highest chance of being eaten, so why not make it uber healthy?

Zucchini — available most of the year despite technically being a summer squash — is full of fiber and offers nice array of vitamins. One medium squash provides vitamin B6, folate and over half our daily requirement of vitamin C, not to mention minerals, such iron and calcium. Zucchini also sports a couple grams of protein, which are always welcomed.

So while you should feel free to tweak this recipe if you must, I urge you to try it as is first. You will be pleased.

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4-INGREDIENT ZUCCHINI SOUP

This Sept. 21, 2015 photo shows 4-ingredient Zucchini Soup in Concord, NH. Zucchini, available most of the year despite technically being a summer squash, is full of fiber and offers nice array of vitamins. One medium squash provides vitamin B6, folate and over half our daily requirement of vitamin C, not to mention minerals, such iron and calcium. Zucchini also sports a couple grams of protein. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

This Sept. 21, 2015 photo shows 4-ingredient Zucchini Soup in Concord, NH.  One medium squash provides vitamin B6, folate and over half our daily requirement of vitamin C, not to mention minerals, such iron and calcium. Zucchini also sports a couple grams of protein. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

The soup is great as is, but it’s also a wonderful slate for dressing up with a variety of toppings. It also allows everyone in the family to customize the soup as they see fit. Mini toasts, browned turkey or chicken sausage, sauteed winter or delicata squash, a spoonful of plain Greek yogurt blended with chopped fresh herbs, or bread.

Start to Finish: 20 minutes

Servings: 4

3 medium-large zucchini (about 1 1/2 pounds)

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth, warmed to hot

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Heat the oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with kitchen parchment.

Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise, then slice off the nubby ends. Place the zucchini on the prepared baking sheet, then mist with cooking spray. Season with salt and pepper, then roast until tender, about 15 minutes, turning halfway through.

In a blender, combine the roasted zucchini, hot broth, chives and lemon juice. Blend until creamy and smooth. Serve immediately.

Nutrition information per serving: 35 calories; 5 calories from fat (14 percent of total calories); 0.5 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 170 mg sodium; 5 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 3 g sugar; 3 g protein.

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Food Network star Melissa d’Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of the cookbook, “Supermarket Healthy.” http://www.melissadarabian.net

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