Zucchini and zucchini flower soup

I would describe the past month (or two or three or five) as one huge juggling act. I’ve been traveling a lot, or working from home, writing, while trying to tend to a three year old’s needs (who, as you can see, if always at my heels), often barely having time to stop and rest, let alone cook (you know what this is like, anyone who freelances and doesn’t set “office hours” for their work).

Soup has saved me.

zucchine fiorentine with their flowers

It’s what I’ve been turning to lately when I realise it’s suddenly dinner time and I don’t have anything prepared. It’s so quick – everything in a pot, water. Blend. It only uses one pot and a stick blender so washing up is minimal. No fiddly chopping since everything will be blended. And it’s so comforting, no matter what sort of day it’s been.

It’s nothing to sniff at either, soup is something I’d make for someone coming over, too. As comforting or as simple as soup is, it’s just like M.F.K. Fisher once said, “It is impossible to think of any good meal, no matter how plain or elegant, without soup or bread in it.”

I like all sorts of soup but a vegetable passata, or a puree, where one vegetable is the hero is my preference. Fennel soup is likely my favourite – a squeeze of lemon, sometimes a potato as a supporting character. Carrot soup is another good one, sweet and sunny. Asparagus soup, done like this one below, but with the big beautiful bunches that are irresistible at the market.

zucchini soupzucchini passata or soup

Zucchini are one of my favourite versatile vegetables, they go into risotto and pasta, grated and barely cooked (this usually happens because I am low on time but I almost always prefer it this way anyway), or are tossed with some garlic and herbs as a side or to go on toasted bread. It was inevitable that they’d be turned into soup, too.

At the market I always prefer the small ones. Pale, sweet and skinny, sometimes ribbed and barely larger than my fingers. They have their orange and white flowers still attached, which, if not used right away usually get squashed and bruised in the fridge, by the zucchini themselves, and end up getting discarded. I usually put them right into the soup, risotto or pasta.

This is barely a recipe, it’s that easy. Blend it any way you like, I go for an immersion blender that I can stick directly into the pot which seems to be less messy to clean up. The blending is all you need to make this soup deliciously creamy, but if you feel like you want to, a knob of butter thrown in right at the end does no harm, either.

These lovely pale zucchini are known variously as costata romanesco or Florentine zucchini, for example, zucchina lunga fiorentina or zucchino fiorentino rigato bianco. They’re sweeter than the huge, dark green, smooth counterparts. If you have your own vegetable garden, these heirloom seeds are easy to buy and grow yourself so you have access to these beautiful zucchini and their flowers.

creamy zucchini soup

Zucchini and zucchini flower soup (Passata di zucchine con i fiori)

Serves 3

  • 5 zucchine fiorentine with their flowers
  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • ½ celery stalk with leaves, chopped finely
  • parsley and stalks, chopped finely
  • handful of fresh basil leaves
  • handful of fresh oregano and mint
  • salt and pepper
  • parmesan cheese, grated (optional)

Slice the zucchini into 2-3mm rounds; remove the stamens of the flowers and roughly chop the rest. Set aside.

Gently cook the onion, garlic, parsley, celery and its leaves and basil in a soup pot with the olive oil and a pinch of salt. Cook for 10 minutes over low heat or until the vegetables have softened. Add the zucchini and 750 ml of water. Bring to a simmer and cook 8-10 minutes, then add the flowers and cook a few minutes more, or until zucchini are tender.

Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper and, if you like, add a swirl of olive oil (or a knob of butter) then blend. If you prefer a smooth soup, blend until perfectly smooth. I like a little texture so I leave it about 3/4 done. Serve immediately with some chopped fresh oregano and mint, and if you like, some Parmesan cheese.

zucchini flowers attached to zucchini

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Comments

3 Responses to “Zucchini and zucchini flower soup”
  1. Sara White says:

    This soup looks so good! Whenever I buy zucchine they usually end up in a fritatta or a lighter take on a carbonara, but I’m definitely going to make this soon.

  2. Frank says:

    How I miss those zucchine! Where I now live zucchine are invariably dark green and swollen. At first I mistook them for especially large cucumbers… and the flowers are almost impossible to find.

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