Gorgeous red birds eye chillies and some fresh zucchini in the biweekly vegetable supply from First Agro Farms, set me to searching for the perfect ‘winter’ soup. Broadly adapted from Simply Recipes ‘Spicy Zucchini Soup’, the chilli zucchini soup 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.
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.
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.
What’s in a name?
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 nutrition-and-you.com, zucchini has a number of health benefits: Because of their high water content, they are low in calories and without saturated fats or cholesterol, high in Folates, it is a good source for potassium, as well as having other minerals such as iron, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc. It 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.
The peel is a good source of digestive fibre that helps in reduction of constipation and can 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 the 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, theres 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 the zucchini 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, through their marketing arm, Sakura Fresh.
We Bangaloreans are lucky indeed to have this quality of vegetables and greens delivered to our doorstep -there is so much happiness in knowing that one has made something flavourful and nutritious and is able to access Safe Food for the family!
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