Last week, I started a cooking marathon. I was preparing our kitchen to be left alone for 10 days as I was leaving for Seattle, to visit my brother and to attend the International Food Blogging Conference (IFBC). Because I’m getting weekly summer fruit and vegetable baskets, I often “force” myself to cook something with what’s left in the fridge, even when I feel like eating out, just to make sure the bounty won’t spoil. It’s a good thing in a way because I feel we’ve been eating healthier (way more vegetables than usual) and because it allows me to spend more time in the kitchen and be more creative.
One thing I’ve been having a lot of in my baskets is zucchini, in all shapes and sizes. I’ve been cooking it many ways: stuffed and sauteed, in an omelette or in a tart. This week I figured their texture would be great to make a creamy, cream-less and very fresh tasting soup. Because E isn’t too fond of cold soups, I wanted to come up with a recipe that could be enjoyed either cold or warm.
I’m a real soup junkie and I think the secret to a great one is to carefully choose the seasonings and not rely just on broth, salt and pepper. Browsing around for inspiration, I stumbled upon a raw soup recipe that I figured I could adapt to cook the zucchini before blending it, to make the soup creamier. Thanks to the addition of an avocado and soaked cashew nuts, the result is an unbelievably silky soup with a delicate but complex taste. I served it warm, perfect even on a hot summer day, but I also enjoyed it cold. I think it would look gorgeous served verrine-style, in a clear glass with a dollop of greek yogurt on top.
Zucchini and Avocado Cold (or Warm) Soup
Inspired by (but heavily adapted from) a recipe from Becoming Raw.
This soup keeps surprisingly well for 3-4 days after it’s been cooked.
1/4 cup cashew nuts, soaked in 1/2 cup water for one hour (do not drain)
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup peeled* and chopped zucchini (any kind)
1 cup water
1 ripe avocado
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon miso paste
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Dash of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon fresh dill
Chopped cashew nuts
Best quality extra-virgin olive oil
Greek cow- or goat-milk yogurt
Heat a medium-sized saucepan over medium-low heat. Sweat the onion, garlic and zucchini in a bit of olive oil for about ten minutes, until the vegetables are soft (onions should be translucent). Lower the heat if needed to make sure the vegetables don’t brown. The zucchini will let quite a bit of water out, it’s ok, don’t throw it away, consider it as your vegetable stock base. Add the water, turn up the heat, bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer gently for 5 minutes.
Pour the soup base in a blender, then add all the other ingredients (soaked cashews, avocado, tahini, lemon juice, miso paste, salt, cayenne pepper and dill). Puree until silky smooth.
The soup is ready to be enjoyed right away. If you want to serve it cold, refrigerate for at least two hours.
Serve warm in bowls or cold in clear glasses with your choice of garnishes: fresh dill, chopped cashew nuts, a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil or a dollop of greek yogurt.
* Note: Peeling the zucchini will keep the soup a beautiful pale avocado green color. I assume you could just add the zucchini without peeling it without altering the taste of the soup too much. You’ll save a step and end up with a darker green soup.