When I used to live in the Washington, D.C. area, I had a good friend who was an avid gardener. By day, she was a high-powered D.C. lobbyist—suited up—lunching on K street—cabbing back and forth to the Hill all day and all night—always on the phone or in a meeting—living a very fast-paced life.
But by night (when she wasn’t at some event), she and her husband would return to their Alexandria home, put on their jeans and work on their huge garden. She called it her therapy—her antidote to a stressful day of coping with politicians, other lobbyists, and all manner of people—some charming and wonderful, many of them just a pain in the proverbial rump.
Their home was on a double lot in Alexandria—their house was on one half, their garden on the other—and their garden was hidden from street view by a really tall fence over which the tops of green things would always dangle temptingly over the sidewalk. They grew everything back there—every kind of bean, tomato, onions, lettuces, herbs, squashes and even corn. Rows and rows of delicious, organic produce. If you were lucky, you got invited to their annual summer garden barbecue, where with cocktail in hand, you would pick your own ear of corn, shuck it and toss it right in the pot to eat fresh off the stalk—heaven. Bagfuls of extra produce would sometimes be dropped on my doorstep—or even at my office—I loved those days! And at the end of the summer, there was always a lot of zucchini—and she was always trying to figure out what to do with these “weapon-sized” wonders—some of them weighing in at 5 pounds or more.
She made me this soup once—served it in a mug and I have remembered it and made it ever since when I see a bargain on zucchini. It satisfies the same way that Gazpacho soup does—I can make a meal of it. I suppose you could serve it hot, but cold it is really delicious—have a mug for lunch, or a cup before dinner and thank my friend and her amazing garden.
Chilled Curried Zucchini Soup with Crème Fraiche
Makes about 6 servings
6 shallots, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 medium zucchini, rinsed and chopped (about 6 cups)
3 tablespoons curry powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon turmeric
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
3 cups chicken stock
Dash of cayenne pepper
Crème Fraiche (or sour cream), for serving
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil, add the shallots and sauté until they are translucent. Add the zucchini and continue to cook until the zucchini is softened. Stir in the curry powder, cumin, turmeric, salt and pepper and cook, stirring until the spices are fragrant and well combined with the vegetables—about 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and heat through. In batches, puree the soup.
Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until well chilled. Serve in bowls with a dollop of crème fraiche.