Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Curried Zucchini Soup

If you were to close your eyes and smell it, you would think that you are eating Indian food.

Shhh... it's really curry and red cayenne pepper infused creamy zucchini soup.

I don't usually use Indian spices in non-Indian dishes, but exceptions like curry powder and cumin dusted carrot soup, cumin-and-smoked-paprika-scented quinoa with zucchini and chick peas, and ginger and green chili sweet potatoes have been quite successful.

I am sure that you are thinking, "Really? Zucchini in November?" I know, I know. I was just as surprised you when it showed up in my last CSA delivery. While other parts of the country have already had their first snow, it seems that temperatures around here are still fairly warm. Gotta love California.

Onions and garlic are slightly sweated, then bay leaf, zucchini and a couple potatoes are simmered in vegetable broth. The soup is infused with curry powder and red cayenne pepper, then pureed and finished with milk or, for a richer soup, heavy cream.

For an exceptionally creamy soup, you can start with a roux of butter and flour but adding a couple potatoes makes the dish gluten free and almost as creamy. I served the curried zucchini soup with crispy papadum (popped in the microwave for 30 seconds instead of fried).

We spent a lazy Sunday outside in the sun, sipping tea and snacking on edamame hummus and haloumi at Samovar, a tea lounge overlooking a garden hidden in the middle of the city. As the sun began to set, it quickly became chilly and more like November. As we rushed home we were warmed just thinking about the hot bowls of soup waiting for us.

Curried Zucchini Soup
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
3 large cloves of garlic, sliced
1 bay leaf
2 lb zucchini, sliced into 2" rounds
2 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/4" rounds
4 cups vegetable broth, low sodium
2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp red cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 1/4 cup whole milk (or heavy cream)
optional papadum or pita triangles for garnish

In a dutch oven, melt 1 tbsp butter in 1 tbsp olive oil. Add onion, garlic and 1 tbsp water and cover and let stew for 3 to 4 minutes. Add bay leaf, zucchini and potato, cook and stir for one minute. Add vegetable broth, curry powder and red cayenne pepper. Bring to a simmer, cover and continue to simmer on low heat for 35-40  minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Puree with an immersion blender. Or let cool, and puree in batches in a blender or food processor. Bring to a simmer, add milk and continue to simmer for 3 to 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with broken pieces of papadum or pita triangles.

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