Here comes this easy zucchini soup recipe from Andalusia, called Crema de calabacín in Spanish, and a perfect addition to this collection of zucchini recipes for springtime, when there’s a glut of zucchinis coming your way.
Incidentally, zucchini is called courgette in the UK but it’s the same vegetable, just with two names.
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Zucchini Recipes Other Than Crema de Calabacín
If you’re anything like me, you always have too many zucchinis at this time of year! Mind you, I’m not complaining about that because I loooove homegrown zucchini so much that I even added it to my fruit bowl for breakfast the other day (yes, weird, I know!).
And don’t worry, if you don’t have a veggie garden full of zucchinis, you can still make this easy zucchini soup. Just be sure to buy sweet zucchinis (see below).
So far this year I’ve made this delicious zucchini layers casserole which really surpassed all my expectations. And then there’s the potato, zucchini & beetroot casserole, where the beetroot took star role and also a zucchini carpaccio salad, not to mention my favourite grilled summer vegetable salad which I created after visiting Bordeaux and eating something similar there.
I’ve also made nasi goreng and bami goreng, with zucchini as the star player, and of course we’ve dined on grilled & roast zucchini loads of times. And not to forget using zucchini if you’re doing oil free cooking in an airfryer. I think by the time the glut of peppers arrives, my husband might be glad not to see another zucchini!
And today it’s time for some of this tasty cream of zucchini soup from Andalusia.
It’s such a simple dish, quick and easy to put together, and always tasty. Though the funny thing is that you can make the same recipe loads of times and yet it will always come out tastier some times than others. Funny that.
Anyway with this recipe, best case scenario is that is tastes out-of-this-world, worst case scenario it’s just delicious.
The best way to eat it is on the second day, and I love to eat it chilled, straight from the fridge, in place of gazpacho. But you can also eat it hot, immediately. Or make far too much quantity and have it hot one day and cold the next.
Crema de Calabacín: Homegrown vs Shop Zucchini
I’m an absolute fan of homegrown zucchinis but of course not everyone has the space, time or inclination to grow these 5 foot monster plants in their garden.
Size of zucchini
If left on the plant, a zucchini grows up to be what, in the uk, is called a a marrow. A marrow is basically a big fat round zucchini with a tougher skin and much dryer flesh.
The taste isn’t really comparable, and although they still have a place in the kitchen, they need to be cooked differently. So for the purpose of this recipe, we’re talking about young, fresh zucchini.
Within that category, there are lots of different types and they have different colours and different sizes. An English ‘courgette’ as it’s called, is tiny compared to one you’ll buy in Spain. And very, very small compared to the ones that come from my garden.
So beware when following recipes, and just use the amount you want and think is right for whatever you’re making.
Apart from size, the creaminess of homegrown zucchinis is different to the ones from the shops, and if you’ve ever tried a bitter zucchini you might even be forgiven for thinking you don’t like zucchinis (gasp). Don’t worry, all is not lost, you just need to get your hands on some tasty ones.
How to Choose Your Zucchini in the Shop
When you go shopping for zucchini, it’s important to pick ones that still have a shine on their skin. When they get old (both on the plant and off), they lose their shine and the skin becomes decidedly dull. They’re still edible at this stage, but they can be tough skinned (too mature on the plant) or dry (too old on the shelves), or both.
The other essential thing to check is that they’re hard. When a zucchini goes soft it becomes dry and (often) bitter. And that definitely won’t lull you into loving it. And if they’re really soft, they can just be downright horrible
Of course, if you can’t get perfect zucchinis, you can make do with dull ones that are slightly soft but remember that you’re not getting the creme-de-la-creme! And if it’s bitter, don’t eat it (see below).
Some Interesting Zucchini Facts
- Zucchinis are low in calories, high in fibre and nutrient dense. They’re helpful in promoting eye health, heart health & weight loss, while helping maintain blood sugar levels and managing diabetes.
- Zucchinis are classified as a summer squash and are harvested when still immature, before their skins toughen up.
- They’re a member of the cucurbitaceae family, the same family as pumpkin, gourd, melon and cucumber.
- Wild Zucchinis contain high levels of cucurbitacins, a toxin to protect the zucchini from predators (herbivores!), while cultivated zucchini have very low levels of this bitter, toxic substance. However, as the cucurbitacins increase, so the zucchini becomes more bitter, so if you have a bitter zucchini, it’s best to throw it away. Curcurbitacins can cause severe gastric symptoms (see next point).
- Toxic squash syndrome (the name for cucurbitacins poisoning) is rare but it is potentially very harmful and even fatal so it’s best not to eat wild, ornamental or bitter squash. And just throw away your zucchini if it’s very bitter.
Different Ways to Cook Zucchini
- Zucchini can be sliced very thinly and used in salad, just like you would use a cucumber. It can also be marinated in a little lemon juice and served as a zucchini carpaccio salad.
- Spiralize the zucchini and drop into boiling water, then serve as zucchini noodles with your favourite pasta sauce like this best homemade tomato sauce for example.
- Chop it up and put it straight into a sauce (raw) and allow it to cook in the juice of the sauce.
- Fry the zucchini by cutting fat zucchini wedges and fying in olive oil and a little salt. Add chopped garlic if you like.
- Make a gluten free batter and fry the sliced zucchini after dipping it into the batter mix.
- A classic ingredient in stir-fries, chop the zucchini into little pieces and use to make your nasi goreng, bami goreng, chilli beans or veggie wraps.
- Bake the zucchini in the oven, sliced in half lengthwise and brushed with a little olive oil and garlic, or fill it with a stuffing.
- On the griddle. Slice the zucchini and simply grill it with a little salt and olive oil. Delicious on its own or added to a king salad or a grilled summer vegetable salad.
- Cook your zucchini in the air fryer without oil. Delicious.
- For soups, the zucchini can be stir-fried or directly cooked in the water. For this recipe the zucchini only spends a quick stirring moment in the olive oil before you add the liquid.
How to Make Crema de Calabacín, Spanish Zucchini Soup
So here goes . . . it’s this simple. You’ll need 5 ingredients (plus salt & spices if using) for the traditional crema de calabacín.
The ingredients are slightly different if you’re making this soup oil free. (For the recipe, see at the bottom of this post.)
Fry some onion & garlic in olive oil until the onions turn translucent and then add some chopped potato. Next comes the zucchini and finally, water or homemade vegetable stock to cover and add a handful of cashews. Make sure to use enough seasoning as the salt really brings out the flavour.
Taste to check the balance and add more of whatever you think is lacking (salt, stock, pepper, dash of gf soy sauce).
The important part of this recipe is the cooking of the onions and garlic, and using enough salt to bring out the flavour. The potato and zucchini can be fried to a greater or lesser degree before adding the water, but the onion should definitely be already flavoursome and well cooked before it touches water!
Cook everything, submerged in water until soft through, then leave to stand and cool (important stage for developing the flavour). Blend into a creamy soup and taste to check the seasoning and overall flavour.
Serve for lunch with gluten free bread, on its own or as a side dish. Or as chilled soup the following day.
If you’ve added too much water, reserve some before blending, so that you get a lovely thick creamy soup. Save the removed stock for adding to the soup for the following day as it will have lots of nutrients and dense flavour in it.
Crema de Calabacín: Spanish Zucchini SoupCourse: Soup, Lunch, StarterCuisine: Vegan, Gluten freeDifficulty: Easy
So simple and reliably tasty, serve this crema de calabacín as a starter, lunch or side dish.
2 large zucchini (6-8 standard size)
1 large white onion (or substitute for 1 leek)
2 cloves garlic
1 large potato
Pinch of cumin & turmeric
Plenty of salt (add to taste)
Handful of cashew nuts
Fresh coriander for topping (optional)
Water or vegetable stock
- Finely chop the onion and garlic
- Add the garlic to a pan with a little hot olive oil and fry for 1 minutes before adding the chopped onion.
- Add a pinch of cumin and turmeric and a sprinkling of salt. Fry on a high heat for 4 minutes.
- Add the chopped potato and fry for another 4 mins.
- Next come the the chopped zucchini & more salt, stir and cook for a moment to heat up in the mix.
- Add water or vegetable stock to almost cover the zucchini. Taste to check salt level and add more as necessary. Cover with a lid and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and leave to cook for 20 minutes or until cooked through and thoroughly soft.
- Turn off the heat and leave to cool.
- If you like a thick purée, you may like to remove some of the liquid before blending, and just add the amount you need for the consistency you want.
- Save the removed liquid and add it back to the soup for the next day.
- I love to pile on some fresh coriander on top.
- Ready in 30 minutes, easy to make and always tasty.
Oil Free Crema de Calabacín or Zucchini Soup
Without an Airfryer
To make a delicious zucchini soup without any oil, finely chop 1 clove of garlic and add it to a hot pan. Next add a finely chopped onion or leek and stir fry, dry in the pan for a couple of minutes. When it begins to stick to the pan, add a squeeze of fresh orange juice and continue to stir fry.
You will probably need to add the orange juice twice, and it takes about 5 minutes for the onions to be a little bit brown.
Add one medium large, chopped zucchini and 3 chopped broccoli florets, stir, and cover with water. Taste the water and add salt until you reach the right level of saltiness (to bring out the flavour of the zucchini). I think salt is essential for the rich flavour in this recipe.
Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered with a lid, until the veggies are soft. Chop up plenty of fresh basil leaves and add them to the pan.
Meanwhile, soak a cup of cashews in boiling water for 15 minutes. Drain and rinse the cashews and blend with a little water until you have a smooth paste. Add a pinch of salt and a good squeeze of lemon juice and blend again.
Pour the cashew sauce into the pan of veggies, add several tbs of nutritional yeast and blend the whole lot together. Taste the soup. At this point you may like to add an extra squeeze of lemon juice.
Serve with coarsely ground black pepper and a decoration of basil leaves.
Oil Free Zucchini Soup Using an Air fryer
By far the easiest way to cook oil free these days is by using an air fryer. Mine has changed the way I cook and I would recommend anyone who’s considering buying one to go ahead. It makes life so simple and cooking becomes easier than ever.
For this soup, cut the onions slightly larger than you would for frying, either in half rings or in larger squares, and slice the zucchini into rounds. Cook in the air fryer at 190ºc for 15 minutes (or until cooked), turning half way through and making sure nothing is burning on top.
Meanwhile place the chopped potato into a pan with enough salted water to cover it and cook until soft. Just as with the other versions of this recipe, you can add some cashews to give a creaminess to the soup (though is’t not essential).
If using, pre-soak the cashews and add them to the potato water half way through cooking. After this stage it’s just a matter of putting the ingredients together. Mix the cooked zucchini & onion with the potato, water and cashews and blend in the blender, tasting to adjust the salt levels and adding vegetable stock for the consistency.
Grind on some black pepper and top with some fresh green herbs like, basil, parsley or coriander.
A quick, nutritious recipe for a tasty, oil free zucchini soup.
If you make this recipe, please let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @loveveganliving!