september 4, 2015
This time of year may have you wondering what to do with all that zucchini on the counter, some as big as rolling pins. You may have grown it in your garden, or your neighbors may have gifted you with their excess. If you have exhausted your options, consider this versatile soup which can be served chilled, at room temperature or lightly heated.
I do love a pureed soup, but love it even more when there are crunchy/creamy/tangy bits atop the soup, as you can see from the photos. This soup may look like you have slaved away in a hot kitchen, but a quick twenty minutes on the stove and a whirl with the stick blender and voila. Soup.
There are always lots of soup choices on the menu for The Good Eats Company. Seasonality prevails, and now there are eggplant, corn, zucchini and tomato versions, with the coup de grace being the Lucky 13 Vegetable Soup which is my riff on Twelve Veggie Soup from the Au Bon Pain chain of fast casual restaurants. A client requested my version of this soup earlier this year and now the baker’s dozen of veggies will remain on the menu year round, with whatever is seasonal and happy at the markets.
This zucchini cilantro soup was served recently at the Sunday Supper hosted by Little House Green Grocery, where mostly local ingredients are presented each season at a lovely sit down dinner in the charming 1930’s era shop, with its pressed tin ceiling and black and white checked linoleum floor. Diners sit near the shelves laden with Virginia products and are fussed over by owner Erin Wright, store manager Gray Carson and yours truly, chef for the events.
Soup was served in tiny hotel espresso cups purchased at a local thrift shop and adorned with a cornmeal crisp. Dessert was the recently published post Avocado Lime Cilantro Ice Cream with almond shortbread and local honeyed stone fruits. Our meal began and ended with cilantro, and because the herb was either cooked or finely processed, that soapy taste was absent and all were satisfied.
This soup is best served after flavors marry for a couple of days, and it will last in the refrigerator up to a week. You can freeze the soup, but after defrosting it will be much thinner and in need of a good whisking; flavor stays great, however, and gets a boost with toppers like the zucchini shreds, cilantro, pumpkin seeds and extra virgin olive oil I used for this recipe.
Start working on that zucchini pile in the kitchen – late summer and early fall means at least a few more weeks of squash!
Zucchini Cilantro Soup
recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company
makes 6-8 servings
1 ¼ cup chopped sweet onion (about one half of a large onion)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (for vegan version, use margarine or oil of choice)
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt ( I like La Baleine)
pinch of finely ground white pepper
one medium garlic clove, grated or finely minced
3 medium large zucchini (about 1 ½-1 ¾ pounds), one inch dice
one large potato, peeled and chopped (about 6 ounces)
1 cup tightly packed cilantro, leaves and tender stems
4 cups best quality vegetable or chicken stock
¼ cup heavy cream (for vegan version, almond or coconut milk may substitute)
optional garnishes : zested strips of zucchini green parts, cilantro leaves,raw pumpkin seeds, and a nice peppery extra virgin olive oil
fine sea salt and white pepper to taste
- In heavy two quart saucepan, combine onion with butter, salt and pepper over medium heat and when mixture begins to sizzle, cook, stirring frequently, over medium to medium low heat until onion is soft and translucent, about 10 minutes; avoid browning.
- Add garlic and stir for about 5 seconds.
- Add zucchini, cilantro, potato and stock, stirring to combine.
- Bring soup to boil, then simmer so that mixture bubbles gently, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
- Use immersion/stick blender to puree thoroughly (alternately, puree soup in batches in food processor or blender, being careful of splatters).
- Add cream with spatula and adjust seasonings.
- Cool to room temperature, then chill at least six hours or overnight.
- Soup will store in fridge up to one week; serve chilled, at room temperature or heated by stovetop method, with gentle stirring just until hot.
- If soup has been frozen and defrosted, it will be thinner and need whisking.
- Garnish as desired.