Fall is soup time, so why not kick things off with zucchini soup
I grew up in a neighborhood on the south side of Dallas called Oak Cliff, right off Ledbetter Drive. Recently I had a chance to visit my old block and the nostalgia hit hard. I hadn’t spent any real time there since my grandmother died a few years ago. My hood was great; it was a hood filled with characters like Sunnyman, Bird, Duck, Dude, Fro, Stack, and Lil Chris. Though he wasn’t little, there was a bigger Chris aka “Fat Rat” hence the “Lil”. Though none of us were related by blood, we all shared a connection as strong as brothers and as they say, “it was all good in the hood”.
Not only did my block have some of the coolest cats you could ever meet and know, it was a huge factor in the development of my culinary education. Though it was truly the hood and all which that entails, it was also unique in that I had neighbors with peach and plum trees, there was a nearby creek where you could fish as well as catch crawfish with some luck, and oddly enough my grandfather grew vegetables in our backyard. My first zucchini came from that garden. I can remember summers where we’d get free lunches as part of the Summer Park Program, and then my buddies Dude, Doug, and Sunnyman would hang-out all day. They would tease me and call me Casper as in the “friendly ghost” because there were frequent moments when I’d disappear. Like clockwork they’d find me “shaking” fruit trees for plums, peaches, and apricots or I’d be in our garden picking weeds and making sure the heirlooms got the love they needed.
My recent visit to the old neighorhood was fortuitous, as many of the aforementioned characters were present and we had a chance to reminisce over Tupac music blasting from the trunk and quarts of beers. My block, my crew, early Fall were all on my mind when I made this recipe. When my pops would harvest and make soup, I just remember hw much better it was than the store bought canned soups we ate. Less salty and bursting with flavor of the actual ingredient we were eating.
I will say, beyond the experience of eating something you actually grew yourself, zucchini ain’t really that exciting or flavorful. It’s great for texture, gut fill, and color but flavorwise I find it very bland. So for this zucchini soup recipe, I added fresh herbs and sauted fennel. I had planned to use onions, but was out and substituted the fennel instead which actually worked out well. Also I wanted to keep this fully plant-based so I nixed the use of any dairy and opted for almond milk instead.
Dope beats, fresh eats. Enjoy!
- 2 pounds zucchini, trimmed and cut crosswise into thirds
- 3/4 cup chopped fennel
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/4 cup water or more, (depending on consistency desired)
- 1 1/4 cup almond milk
- 1/3 cup packed basil leaves
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp black pepper (feel free to add more if you’re like me and prefer peppery)
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp curry powder
- In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the fennel and saute 5 minutes stirring as needed.
- Add the garlic and garlic, salt and pepper and cook over moderately low heat, stirring frequently, until softened, 5-6 minutes.
- Add the zucchini and spices and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 10 minutes.
- Add the almond milk, herbs and water and bring to a simmer; cook until the zucchini is very soft, about 10 minutes.
- Working in 2 batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth. Return the soup to the saucepan and season more as needed. Let soup simmer for a few minutes.
- Serve hot or chilled.