Soupe glacée aux courgettes

Cold zucchini-lentil soup

This zingy soup combines zucchini with tiny Indian lentils, spices and mint for a refreshing summer starter or meal when the temperature soars. It may be topped with a swirl of coconut milk and any number of embellishments.

The base of the soup is a purée of zucchini, onion, garlic, ginger and Indian flavorings. Indian red lentils, which turn yellow when cooked with turmeric and ginger, are stirred in at the end (these are the lentils that are used in making dal).

The quantities below will make 5-6 bowls of soup.

For the lentils
1/2 cup (80 g) Indian red lentils
1 cup water

1 tsp. turmeric
a 1/2-inch (1 cm) slice of ginger, unpeeled
1/2 tsp. salt

For the zucchini purée
2 medium zucchini (courgettes)
1 medium onion
a 1/2-inch (1 cm) slice of ginger, peeled

2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp. vegetable oil (not olive oil)
1 tsp. coriander seeds
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. turmeric
4 cups water

1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 dried cayenne pepper, crushed
2 tbsp. finely sliced fresh mint leaves

For embellishing the soup (all are optional)
Coconut milk
Cucumber slices
Mint leaves
Cilantro leaves
Freshly squeezed lime juice

Halved cherry tomatoes
Little shrimp
Or use your imagination…

Begin by cooking the lentils. Put in a pot, add the water, turmeric and ginger, and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat, skim off the foam that forms on top and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, add the salt and stir. Drain through a sieve.

While the lentils are cooking, slice the zucchini into rounds. Chop up the onion and finely mince the ginger and garlic.

Heat the oil to sizzling in a large skillet or soup pot. Add the zucchini and onion. Sauté over medium-high heat for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Flip the zucchini rounds, add the ginger and garlic and sauté 3 minutes more.

Now add the coriander seeds, cumin and turmeric. Allow to cook for 30 seconds only (more could produce a burnt taste), then add the water. Stir. Add the salt, sugar and cayenne. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Remove from heat and put through a blender. Transfer to a large bowl. Add about half of the lentils. Stir. Add more lentils until the soup reaches your desired consistency (if you have leftover lentils, you can use them in a salad). Stir in the finely sliced mint leaves. Taste and add more salt as necessary.

Refrigerate the soup until thoroughly chilled. Ladle into individual soup bowls and embellish as you wish. Serves 5-6.

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