Gorgeous red birds eye chillies and some fresh zucchini in the the weeks vegetable supply, set me to searching for the perfect 'winter' soup. Broadly adapted from Simply Recipes 'Spicy Zucchini Soup', the curried chilli zucchini soup with grated zucchini and with walnuts and turmeric, is one treat you will come back to again and again. The varied textures and balance of flavours are everything one would want a soup to be.
MAKING THE CURRIED CHILLI ZUCCHINI SOUP
The curried chilli zucchini soup is easy to put together, and the walnuts add to the texture and flavour, contrasting with the silkiness of the pureed zucchini.
The red chillies give it just that zing you want from a hot bowl of soup on a chill Bangalore evening.You can manage the level of 'heat' by adjusting the quantity of red chilli used in the recipe for chilli zucchini soup below.
I have grated the zucchini and pureed the soup coarsely. However you could dice the zucchini into even sized 1 cm square or so pieces for uniform cooking. Or grate the zucchini and not puree the soup.
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
The origins of zucchini have been traced by archaeologists to as early as 7000 BC, in Mexico. Wikipedia says that 'Zucchini, like all squash, has its ancestry in the Americas. However the varieties of squash typically called "zucchini" were developed in northern Italy in the second half of the 19th century, many generations after the introduction of cucurbits from the Americas (North and South, called the New World) in the early 16th century.' The first description of the variety under the name zucchini occurs in a work published in Milan in 1901.
The origins of the name of the fruit is interesting, as it is said that the people who colonised New England, gave it the name of squash, which is derived from its North American description of 'something eaten raw'.
The first records of zucchini in the United States are said to date to the early 1920s, and thought to have been brought over by Italian immigrants and probably first cultivated in California. Wikipedia says that in the United States, Australia and Germany, the plant is commonly called a zucchini, derived from the Italian zucca, meaning a "gourd, marrow, pumpkin, squash.
The name courgette is from the French courge, "gourd, marrow", and is commonly used in France, Belgium and other Francophone areas, and in the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, the Netherlands and South Africa. In the United Kingdom, Ireland and New Zealand, a fully-grown, matured courgette is referred to as a marrow.In South Africa, the fruit is typically harvested as a baby vegetable, approximately finger size, and is referred to as “baby marrows”.
NUTRITION AND HEALTH:
According to healthline.com, there are a number of benefits from zucchini. Because of their high water content, they are low in calories and without saturated fats or cholesterol, high in Folates, are a good source for potassium, as well as having other minerals such as iron, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc. They is often advised by dieticians in weight reduction and cholesterol control programs.
Zucchini has some levels of anti-oxidants (though not as much as some berries and vegetables) and the yellow skinned ones are rich in flavonoid poly-phenolic antioxidants such as carotenes, lutein and zea-xanthin, which can play a role in ageing and help fight cancer and other disease. Zucchini may benefit bone, thyroid, and prostate health. It may also have anticancer properties. However, more research is needed before strong conclusions can be made.
The peel is a good source of digestive fibre that helps in reduction of constipation and may be of some protection against colon cancer. Fresh zucchini is rich in Vitamin A and C as well as some moderate levels of B-complex group of vitamins all of which are important for good health.
CULINARY USES OF THE ZUCCHINI:
Zucchini or courgette is such a versatile vegetable. Actually, it is a fruit, like the tomato, but of course not as sweet and soft which is why it is made into savoury dishes, like my chilli zucchini soup.
Add it to pasta sauce, make zucchini soup, bake it as an au gratin or as bread, grill it, shred it, sauté or roast it and add to a salad, spiralize into noodles, or stuff and bake it, make a soufflé, there's a lot you can do with it. It cooks fast, and its rather bland taste complements most flavours, and gives texture to the dish. And is both nutritious and healthy too!
The culinary use of the zucchini is as varied as the many regions of the world. The flower and the fruit are both edible, as is the peel of the young zucchini.
A main ingredient in the French ratatouille, or stuffed with meat, tomatoes or peppers; in salads, raw or lightly cooked in Thai or Vietnamese recipes; in Egypt, cooked with tomato sauce, garlic and onions; fried and served with a yogurt dip in Bulgaria or sliced and baked with eggs, yogurt, flour and dill.
Cooked in different ways, in Italy, baked, boiled, fried, sautéed; stuffed with meat or rice, herbs and spices an steamed as in the Middle East and Greece where it is served with avgolemono sauce or fried or stewed with green peppers and eggplant. Zucchini flowers and fruit are used as a filling for quesadilla in Mexico, or made into zucchini soup or stews.
A favourite way to cook zucchini in Russia and the Ukrainian region is to coat it with flour or semolina and fry or bake and serve with sour cream.
Zucchini caviar is another interesting dish, where, according to Wikipedia, the squash spread is made from processed zucchini, carrots, onions and tomato paste.
The popular mücver or zucchini pancakes of Turkey, are made from shredded zucchini, flour and eggs and fried in olive oil, served with yogurt.
Mouth watering, are they not?
So: Have you had zucchini today? Try out this chilli zucchini soup and you will come back for more!
As usual, I had purchased the zucchini, herbs and the chillies for the chilli zucchini soup, from the zero pesticide growers of fresh produce, First Agro Farms.
You may like these recipes on the Blog too:
Curried Chilli Zucchini Soup
Ingredients to prepare
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh red chilli - Adjust quantity to taste.Deseeded and white ribs removed
- ½ cup minced red onions
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 2 tablespoons minced parsley leaves
- 2 tablespoons minced coriander leaves
- 2 tablespoons mint leaves
- 5 cups grated zucchini - Keep the peel on if the zucchini are tender
- 1 cup toasted, sliced walnuts - (see ingredients for garnish, walnuts are needed there too)
- 1 cup bread pieces
Other ingredients for the Soup
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- 4 cups stock - or water
- ½ teaspoon salt - or to taste
- ½ teaspoon Fresh ground pepper - or to taste
Ingredients for the Garnish
- 1 tablespoon Coriander leaves minced
- 1 tablespoon Mint leaves minced
- 1 tablespoon toasted, sliced walnuts
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
To Prepare the Ingredients
- Prepare the ingredients and keep them ready to use: Deseed the fresh chilli, remove the white ribs, and mince the chilli. I like to keep the chilli whole and just slit it down its length deseeding and removing the white ribs, so that the chilli can be removed before the soup is served, and nobody bites into the chilli (unless they relish the heat!) Peel and mince the onion, garlic and ginger. Strip the herb leaves from the stalks, wash dry and mince.
- Grate the zucchini and retain its juices. Keep the zucchini peel if the zucchini is fresh and young, and if it is mature with a tough fibrous peel, remove the peel and seeds. Grating speeds up the cooking process, however you could dice the zucchini into even sized pieces of about 1 cm sq, if you find it convenient. Toast the shelled walnuts in a pan and slice them. Set aside till required. Tear bread to small pieces. I use the sides too. Mince herbs and toast walnuts for garnish. Slice the walnuts.
To Make Curried Chilli Zucchini Soup
- Keep the prepared ingredients ready. Measure the other ingredients as per the list above. Heat olive oil in a pan and add minced red chilli (adjusting the quantity to your taste for the chilli heat). Sauté for 30 seconds. Add the minced garlic and ginger, sauté for 30 seconds. Add curry powder and turmeric, sauté for 10 seconds. I use Madras curry powder. Add minced onions. Sauté till the onions are translucent, without letting them brown - about 4 minutes
- Add the grated zucchini, stir it in and sauté for 4 minutes, stirring frequently as the zucchini may have a tendency to stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Add the bread cubes. Stir. Add the Stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the stove heat to low, and let the soup simmer for 15 minutes. Add half the walnuts, reserving the rest for garnish
- Add all the herbs after reserving some coriander and mint leaves for garnish. Take the pan off from the stove and transfer the soup to another container to cool. When cool enough to blend, puree in a food processor or hand blender. Hot liquid can splash out of the processor so use caution and puree the soup in batches. You may puree the soup till smooth, though I like a little texture in my soup and have pureed it coarsely, with bits of zucchini and walnuts floating around.
- Place the pureed soup back on the stove. Add half a cup of water if you find the soup too thick for your liking. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 5 minutes. Serve hot, garnished with coriander, mint leaves and walnuts.