The dog days of summer are upon us, and it’s a great time to spend some of this  relatively quiet time in the kitchen, cooking up the bounty of our farms and gardens.

     I’m always on the look-out for new recipes for soups and salads that help me use up the plethora of produce that I am storing in my crisper drawers, from farmstands, our Tierra Vegetables CSA box and my own garden.

  Sara Moulton, food editor of ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America,”  has written a new  cookbook, “Everyday Family Dinners” that  offers up 200 recipes for overscheduled home cooks like myself who want to try out new recipes without spending hours in the kitchen.

    “Most of us tend to make the same 10 recipes over and over again,” Moulton said. “Broadly, this book is a compendium of strategies to wriggle free of the strait jack that stipulates starch/vegetable/protein at every meal.”

   This recipe for a sunny, summer soup is a great way to spotlight some of the unsung heroes of summer: summer squash and zucchini.  

Sunny Summer Soup with Zucchini Crisps

Serves 4 to 6

2 pounds yellow summer squash (about 6 medium)

1 large yellow bell pepper

4 medium carrots

½ pound Yukon gold potatoes (about 2 medium)

1 medium onion

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Kosher salt

4 cups homemade vegetable or chicken stock, or canned broth

Zucchini crisps (recipe follows)

12 large, fresh basil leaves

Freshly ground black pepper

Cut the squash in half and then into ½ –inch dice (about 8 cups); cut the bell pepper into ½ –inch dice (about 1 ½ cups); cut the carrots into ½-inch dice (about 1¼ cup); cut the potatoes into ½-inch dice (scant 1 cup).

Medium chop the onion (about 1 cup). Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low; add the onion and ½ teaspoon salt and cook for 5 minutes, or until the onion has softened.

Add the squash, bell pepper, carrots, and potatoes to the saucepan along with the vegetable or chicken stock; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool, 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the Zucchini Crisps (see below). Thinly slice the basil crosswise (a scant ¼ cup).

Transfer 3 cups of the vegetables from the soup to a small bowl using a slotted spoon and reserve. Working in small batches, puree the remaining soup in a blender (or immersion blender) until smooth; transfer to a bowl/ Return the soup to the saucepan along with the reserved vegetables and add water, if necessary, to reach the desired consistency; add salt and black pepper to taste. Heat just to a boil. Divide the soup among 4 to 6 soup bowls; top each serving with some Zucchini Crisps and basil.

Zucchini Crisps: Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Cut 1 medium zucchini crosswise into ¼-inch-thick slices (about 1 ¾ cups). Pulse 1½ slices firm white bread in a blender or food processor to make fresh bread crumbs. Combine 2/3 cup of the bread crumbs and 1 ½ ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano in a medium bowl. Mix 1/3 cup Wondra or unbleached all-purpose flour with ½ teaspoon kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper in a pie plate or shallow baking dish. Beat 1 large egg with ½ teaspoon water in a small bowl. Heat 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat until hot. Dredge the zucchini slices in the flour, shaking off any excess. Dip them into the egg and then into the crumbs. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Fry the zucchini in several batches for 4 to 5 minutes, or until browned on both sides. Add more olive oil as needed. Drain the crisps on paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Transfer them to a rimmed baking sheet and keep them warm in the oven.