Cold Lightly Curried Zucchini Soup

For access to all of At Home blog recipes, visit the Recipe Index. Additional cold soup recipes include Cold Corn Soup, Handmade Gazpacho for a Crowd and Cold Cucumber Soup with Dill.

Cold Lightly Curried Zucchini Soup
In summertime, cold soup makes for the perfect lunch along with good bread and cheese and an ideal starter to dinner. Zucchini is plentiful and inexpensive during summer — so much so that its bounty outstrips its uses. Grilling is a simple and excellent use. Ratatouille is a summertime classic, but an ambitious undertaking. The relative blandness of zucchini lends itself to accepting flavors such as the lightly curried accent to this buttermilk enhanced soup. The slight sourness of buttermilk — similar in character to yogurt, adds to the refreshing nature of this soup.

Do Ahead Soup may be made up to five days ahead and refrigerated

1 medium onion, sliced — about 2 cups
2 pounds zucchini, ends trimmed, sliced — about 7-8 cups
1 cup diced celery with leaves plus leaves for garnish
1 cup parsley leaves and stems, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 cup small cubed carrots
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups corn, vegetable or chicken stock (See note.)
2 cups reduced fat buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1. In a thick 4 quart pot, heat olive oil over moderate high heat. Add onions and cook until they begin to wilt. Reduce heat to moderate. Add curry powder, stir well and cook for about a minute stirring. Add zucchini, garlic,celery and parsley. Stir well. Cook about 7-8 minutes until unions wilt and zucchini starts to soften.
2. Add stock and cover. Cook another 8-10 minutes until zucchini soft. Off heat and allow to cool.
3. Transfer to blender and blend until smooth. You may need to do this in two batches.
4. Transfer to bowl, add buttermilk, salt and pepper. Chill at three to four hours until very cold.
5. Bring water to boil in small pot and add carrots. Cook about a minute until slightly softened. Strain carrots and run under cold water or transfer to bowl of ice water.
6. Before serving, adjust thickness adding more buttermilk if too thick. Taste for salt and pepper. Remember that as things get colder they can take more salt.
To serve: Place in individual bowls. Place small mound of carrots in middle and smallish pieces of torn celery leaves in a circle.

Yield 2 quarts serving 6-8.

Note about Corn Stock
Corn produces a simply wonderful sweet stock. Just save the water from cooking your corn on the cob, add back the cobs after shaving away corn (or even after eating — yes, that’s right – the cobs will boil and the stock will be perfectly safe!) and some sliced onion. Simmer for 10-15 minutes and strain. You can boil stock to increase its flavor concentration.

Cold Lightly Curried Zucchini Soup is quite simple to make, cool and refreshing. The buttermilk provides a slight sour undertone, much as yogurt does in the previously featured Cold Cucumber Soup. In fact, you could substitute yogurt for the buttermilk. If you do this, you will need to thin out soup with more stock or water as yogurt is thicker than buttermilk.

Trim the ends from zucchini. Then cut in half lengthwise. Cut slices about 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick. You do not have to be precise about the thickness as it all gets pureed.

To make small carrot cubes — or to cube other similar-shaped vegetables — begin with a peeled carrot.

With a sharp knife cutting parallel to cutting surface, cut lengthwise slices.

Cut these slices into long strips and line up the strips.

Cut across the strips and create your small carrot cubes. If you want smaller cubes, cut thinner slices and thinner strips. The cubes will not all be the same size — nor will they truly be “cubes” — but they will be perfect for what you need.

Ready to start cooking. This recipe uses the basic technique for making soups based on vegetable purees. Basically this is a light saute of the primary vegetable — here zucchini — along with aromatics like onion and garlic, seasonings — here curry powder — and preferably a flavored stock, but, in a pinch, water.

There is a recipe for Mastering Vegetable Puree Soups on Page 110-111 of At Home followed by the ingredients for Cream of Brussels Sprouts, Asparagus Soup and Roasted Cauliflower Soup. While, except for Spring-arriving asparagus, these are not warm weather vegetables, I have seen local cauliflower at farm stands and Brussels sprouts will start to arrive while the weather is still warm and they would all make wonderful cold soups.  Purchase At Home by Steve Poses: A Caterer’s Guide to Cooking & Entertaining – available only online.

Use a thick-bottom pot like this enamel over cast iron. This enables even cooking and prevents scorching. Add the onions to hot olive oil.

Cook until onions begin to wilt and soften – about 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally so onions cook evenly. You do not want onions to brown.

Add curry powder and cook about a minute. This “toasts” the curry, enhances the flavor and removes any rawness. Stir as you do this to prevent scorching.

Add zucchini, garlic, parsley and celery and stir well. Cook for 4-5 minutes until zucchini starts to soften.

Add stock, reduce heat to moderate and cook for 8-10 minutes until zucchini is soft.

Allow to cool before transferring to blender. This is not for culinary purposes as you could puree while hot. It is for safety purposes so you do not run the risk of getting splashed with hot liquid. Blend until very smooth. (Note: This is an incredible blender. Expensive, but worth it.)  Transfer to bowl and add buttermilk, salt and pepper. Allow to chill for at least 3-4 hours until very cold. Before serving, check thickness. It should have the consistency of thick heavy cream — not at all watery. Liquids will naturally thicken as they chill so you may need to thin more. In addition, cold liquids usually need more salt, so taste and adjust, adding more salt if needed.

Quickly blanch carrots in boiling water for about a minute. You want to remove the raw carrot quality while retaining some “bite.”

Strain carrots and run under cold water or place in ice bath to stop cooking and retain texture.

To serve, place in bowl with a small mound of carrots in center and a few pieces of celery leaves scattered around. You have an easy, do ahead and delicious start to a dinner or the centerpiece of a lunch with a tossed salad, some good bread and cheese.

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