I love Random Recipes but for the past few months (probably more, I just don't want to count) for various reasons I haven't been able to take part. This month however I had no excuses because to celebrate 30 months of Random Recipes the lovely Dom decided we had to pick book number 30 from our collections and turn to page 30 to find out our fate for this month. By sheer coincidence book number 30 from my list of books in my Cookbook Room was none other than Forever Summer by Nigella Lawson, which I just happen to be reviewing this month anyway! Total bonus. Unfortunately though page 30 turned out to be the title page for the chapter on Pasta so since we all at times like to turn back the clock a bit I went to pages 28 & 29 which was her recipe for “Happiness Soup”.
I know what you are probably thinking, what on earth is “Happiness Soup” and even I myself thought she may have overstepped the mark just a touch with this one, however the first line of the recipe is asking us to forgive her for the tweeness of the title. Ok Nigella, you are forgiven, especially because after making the soup I can kind of see where she was coming from as this soup is so incredibly bright and summery it would cheer up anyone on even the dreariest of days! The recipe is incredibly simple and straightforward and the end result delicious. It's very light and the lemon juice gives it a lovely bright, refreshing taste, but the addition of the rice makes it heartier.
If I had to criticise it I would say that there wasn't any need for the 3 tablespoons of oil (2 would be more than plenty) and the turmeric again could be cut down as it didn't do anything other than turn the soup an insanely bright luminescent yellow! Next time I make this (which I will) I'll definitely use less olive oil and half the amount of turmeric. I also have to say that this soup rather unusually for soups was better the day it was made. When I had some the following day I had to add more stock as the rice had absorbed the majority of it but the lemon flavour was a little overpowering. All in all though if you can get beautiful yellow courgettes/zucchini's then I definitely recommend giving this soup a try and see if it turns your frown upside down!
500g/ roughly 18oz yellow zucchini/courgettes (2 large)
zest and juice of 1 small lemon
3 tbsp olive oil (see my notes above regarding this)
1 tsp turmeric (see above also)
1 litre/ 4 cups chicken stock
115g/ 4oz basmati rice
Maldon or other sea salt & pepper
Cut the squash into very thin rings, and then dice them finely. Heat the oil slightly then add the squash and the lemon zest to the pan (Nigella suggests just adding the oil, squash and zest at once but I prefer to warm the oil slightly first – you do whatever you prefer). Stir everything together so that the zucchini is coated with the oil and zest then cook on a gentle heat for about 5 minutes, stirring from time to time, until they have softened slightly.
Add the turmeric, stock and lemon juice, stir then add the rice. Cook, uncovered, for 10-12 minutes or until the squash and rice are tender. Taste for seasoning and add as needed. Leave to cool slightly before serving so that you eat the soup warm rather than piping hot.