The Fastest Zucchini Soup in the (Down) East

Fast, simple, delicious and wholesome, mostly. Ruth Thurston in Machias supplied this recipe that she found on a yellowed newspaper clipping, quite possibly, she thinks, clipped from this very paper years ago. It’s worth a repeat for sure, and a little tweaking, of course, while we still have zucchinis squirting from our plants out in the garden, providing you didn’t get a frost weekend before last or are losing plants to downy mildew as I gradually am here.

The recipe calls for three cups of diced zuke but the one I used yielded four so I heaved that in, too, because what was I going to do with a three-inch chunk of vegetable? Ruth wrote that she used frozen zucchini so if you don’t want to make this now, chunk up your zucchini and freeze it in three to four cup amounts to use later. “You could use half zucchini and half summer squash, I thought,” wrote Ruth and that is a really good idea.

She also observed that the soup needs more than a dash of the seasonings. Absolutely. No wimpy little sprinkles here: use a generous quantity of dill and curry. I used at least a whole teaspoon of curry powder, and a tablespoon of dried dill leaves. I also tossed in two cloves of garlic, and several grinds of black pepper.

It was as rich and creamy as Ruth said it would be because of the cream cheese. Now, the original recipe says eight ounces but I thought, yikes, that’s an awful lot. I used four and thought it was pretty rich. In this case, cream cheese is for me an example of the ever-useful White Stuff that soups like this can happily absorb. How about ricotta, cottage cheese, or goat cheese? Even generous globs of sour cream could stand in for cream cheese or low-fat items like Neuchatel, or plain, probably Greek-style, yogurt.

If you want, use chicken stock instead of bouillon cubes or, for vegetarians, vegetable broth or miso paste. I used a favorite bouillon paste that I think is better than bouillon cubes.

Ruth suggested that chives or scallions would be a good garnish. I made this as an informal lunch soup served in big mugs and so skipped the garnish phase and proceeded directly to consumption. Chives and scallions would be a great addition, though.

You can make this soup really quickly, half an hour. You know that if you put hot stuff in a blender or food processor it might puree explosively. No fun cleaning that up. Use a stick blender if you have one. (If you don’t have one, go get one. Highly recommended.) Otherwise you have to let the cooked squash mixture cool a bit before pureeing. The soup is good warm, room temperature, or even chilled.

The directions below are for my tweaked version of the old recipe. Easy-peasy. Make it as it is or let it be an inspiration for a version of your very own.

Fast Zucchini Soup
Serves: four
  • 1 medium large zucchini, or about four cups chopped
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 2 cloves of peeled garlic left whole
  • 1 tablespoon crushed dried dill
  • 1 heaping teaspoon curry powder, more or less to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 4 ounces cream cheese softened to room temperature
  1. Put the zucchini, water, bouillon, and garlic in a medium pan, bring to a boil and cook until the zucchini is soft, about fifteen minutes.
  2. Stir in the dill, curry powder and pepper.
  3. Add the cream cheese and stir until it is mostly melted. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  4. Puree and serve.


Sandy Oliver

About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.