Sunday, October 23, 2011

Curried Zucchini Soup

Back in grad school, I used to frequently eat at The Red Herring, a non-profit, typically student run vegetarian (and when I was in school, strictly vegan) restaurant. It was charming and eclectic, and typically served a killer bowl of soup for $3. One of my favorites was their curried zucchini soup. I've tried to make it at home before, never with much success.

 I recently started experimenting with cashew cream, an ingredient used in a lot of vegan recipes to simulate heavy cream. I thought that this might be the ingredient that finally brings me success with this soup, especially since it's what the Red Herring used to give soups a creamy texture and mouthfeel. 

Curried Zucchini Soup (serves 4)
  • Vegetable Oil 
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 shallots, miched 
  • 1 large zucchini, diced (about 3 C)
  • 1 Tbsp garam masala
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne 
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 C faux-chicken or veggie broth
  • salt & pepper
  • 1-1.5 C cashew cream 
1. Heat a bit of oil in a small Dutch oven or soup pot. Add the garlic and shallots and stir over medium heat until the shallots begin to soften. Don't allow the garlic to brown. 
2. Add the diced zucchini. Add more oil if required. Add the garam masala, curry powder, cayenne & turmeric and sautee for about 5 minutes or until the zucchini begins to soften.
3. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and allow to simmer for 30 mins. Taste, adding salt & pepper & additional spices as needed. 
4. Stir in the cashew cream until well incorporated. Once well mixed, (carefully!) scoop a few ladlefuls into a food processor and pulse til smooth. Add back to the soup.
5. Add additional broth, or cashew cream if desired to achieve preferred consistency. If you'd like, process more of the soup for a smoother consistency.
6. Adjust seasonings, and cook for a few more minutes over med-low heat. Garnish with onion relish if desired. 

Kitchen Notes: I threw this soup together pretty haphazardly, & this soup will be forgiving regarding the spices you use, so feel free to experiment depending on your whims.

Verdict? Help! This soup is good, but it's not quite what I remember. The texture was perfect--really spot on, and it's surprisingly that there's no dairy. You can see by the sheen on the soup that it looks like proper cream--this would be a good alternative for someone with a dairy/lactose allergy or high cholesterol. The flavor, however was a bit too mild for me, and in past experiences, adding copious amounts of curry powder makes a food gritty. Does anyone have a favorite curry brand? Or a recommendation of other spices?

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