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zucchini and walnut thyme soupLet’s face it: size does matter. Okay. I should clarify: size matters if you are a zucchini.

Those summer squashes (zucchini/courgettes) that throughout the lazy summer months  were tender and thin-skinned enough for anointing with cream in delicate gratins, and ribboning raw into salads? Well, they are now lumpen beasts; their mass, weight and tough facade seemingly only useful as weapons. Perhaps light-sabres, perhaps clubs, perhaps bricks – variety depending.

And it seems to happen overnight. As any gardener will tell you, nearly all varieties in the Curcubita pepo family will bulk from 99 gram weakling into the Incredible Hulk with very little encouragement. But late summer squashes – big and lumbering though they are – come to make soup, not war.zucchini and walnut thyme soup

As with most off-the-cuff soup recipes, I thought up this one when faced with a pile of ageing vegetables. Now, I love summer squash dearly – sliced, steamed and then dotted with a little butter and black pepper is my fave. Unfortunately, as with many vegetables, the bigger they are the seedier and more bitter they become.

But I also dearly hate waste. The thought of tossing these hulks onto the compost pile seems not only wrong but indecent. Surely with a bit of peeling and deseeding (the latter with a spoon, for ease) all will be right? It is, mostly. Very large zucchini are quite spongey fleshed and hyper-absorbent; coping rather poorly with a blast in the oven  – my usual saviour for old, non-lettucey veg. So, soup it is. Lots of it. Lots because of course what big ol’ vegetables do have going for them is mass and volume. Perfect for soup!

I wish I could have kept the still-beautiful, sunglasses-required skin: the cancer health educator in me mourned the loss of all of those antioxidants and phytonutrients.  But far better to have some very edible soup than a mouthful of bitter, overblown nutrients. There is still the Vitamin C and a dod of iron, but zucchini aren’t particular nutrition powerhouses anyway.

What does amp up the goodness is the addition of walnuts, and of course onions. The walnuts are of special note because of the disproportionately  large amount of Omega 3 fats contained within their crunchy meat. We don’t get nearly enough of this essential fat – especially true for vegans – as the best source, in its most absorbable form is found in oily fish. Walnuts easily help fill this nutritional gap. Try and get skin-on walnuts – most of the beneficial goodies are somehow slipped into the papery skins. More info on this highly-rated treenut can be found at World’s Healthiest Foods. Incidentally, the phytosterols and ‘good’ fats in walnuts may help to prevent breast cancer and prostate cancer.

Enough chit chat, let’s eat!

zucchini and walnut thyme soup“Creamy” Zucchini, Walnut and Thyme Soup

Last year: Squidgy Raspberry Brownies (gluten-free)

Two years ago: Sweet and Tangy Berry Tabbouleh (love this!)

Miss R’s track of the week: London Grammar’s Strong – a unique alt rock trio soon to release this soaring plaintive cry of a song – spine-tingling

The “creamy” here comes from souped and blended walnuts. Use good quality nuts: they are important for taste as well as texture. I have written this up with walnuts and thyme, but I just know it would be fabulous with mint, basil and pine nuts. If you make it this way, let me know how it turns out😀

Serves 4

90g (1 cup) skin-on walnuts – toast for five minutes at 180C/350F

1 large onion, chopped

1 ½ tbsp olive oil

1 ½  tsp dried thyme leaves (less if yours is quite strong-tasting)

2 bay leaves

4 garlic cloves, minced

750g (6 cups) chopped zucchini/summer squash – yellow or green

1.2 litres (5 cups) vegetable or chicken stock/bouillon (or a mix of the two)

Zest of half a lemon (more to taste)

Freshly ground pepper

Fresh thyme leaves (lemon thyme if you have some) – optional Dash of honey – if needed, in case of slight bitterness

1. Heat the oil in a soup pot and add the onions. Saute gently until translucent. Add the bay leaves, dried thyme and garlic, and sauté a few more minutes. When the garlic smells fragrant and the onions lose their raw smell, add the chopped zucchini and the walnuts. Stir and pour over the hot stock. Bring to the boil. Lower the heat to simmer and cook gently for 20 minutes, adding the lemon zest during the last minute or so.

2. Remove the pan from the heat and fish out the bay leaves. Ladle into a blender or use a hand-blender/immersion blender to blend the soup to a beautifully smooth texture. Test for seasoning and taste – adding pepper, salt and/or honey if needs be. Add in the fresh thyme leaves, if using.

3. Serve with nice bread and perhaps a small plate of the last of any local tomatoes, sliced and dressed with good olive oil and fresh thyme leaves.zucchini and walnut thyme soup

This week I am sending this to Lavender and Lovage’s Cooking With Herbs recipe blog challenge. Karen is a fabulous supporter of others’ works and I do appreciate the opportunity to share over at hers. Cooking-with-Herbs-300x252-150x150And, as (nearly) always, this is all homemade so I am batting it to Mark at Javelin Warrior’s Cookin’ W/ Luv for his weekly roundup of homemade goodies on Made With Love Mondays.6797570797_5f6497bd2e_z

I would also like to submit this soup to two other challenges. First of all to the Four Season’s Food challenge by Louisa at Chez Foti and Anneli at Delicieux. This month’s theme is ‘Sliding into Autumn’ and I think this recipe, like last week’s, fits perfectly. fsf-autumnAnd also to Credit Crunch Munch (although this is more of a slurp!), founded by Fuss Free Flavours and Fab Food 4 All. This month’s host is Elizabeth’ Kitchen Diary (inspiring photos too). Credit-Crunch-Munch

69 thoughts on ““Creamy” Zucchini, Walnut and Thyme Soup

  1. WOW! What absolutely amazing colours Kellie! I am so IN LOVE with this soup, it is what I call “Happy Soup”, cheap and cheerful it may be, but it looks and sounds divine! As always, a wonderful post with a super recipe, and thanks so much for your kind words too! Karen

  2. mewinebrenner says:

    My Mom always get monster sized zucchini in her garden! This is a fun way to use them up – and now I can stop making loaf after loaf of zucchini bread! Love the color of this soup too!

  3. Amanda says:

    Hilarious about the change in zucchinis. The soup looks amazing. I will definitely be making this. I also like to get the bigger ones and make a zucchini lasagna out of it, using the zucchini as pasta.

  4. Penniless Veggie says:

    What a gorgeous combo, a perfect ‘three things; pinned!

  5. narf77 says:

    This soup is right up my collective alley. We have a walnut tree on our property and every year it’s a fight between the possums, the native bush rats and I to harvest them. I got lots last year and despite my best intentions to squirrel them away for winter or to plant them and grow new trees, I ended up eating most of them almost as soon as they were harvested. They are amazing when first harvested and would be perfect for this soup. Cheers for the save and the nutritional info as well. We forget that aside from being “fattening” (all some people can hear these days), nuts are nutritional powerhouses and so long as we don’t deep fry them and salt them within an inch of their lives and eat 500g at one sitting, nuts are an amazing way to get vital fatty acids that keep our skin and brains/nervous systems happy along with lots of other bodily portions apparently:).

    1. Lucky you with the walnut tree. My father-in-law has just finished making a batch of pickled walnuts with walnuts from his neighbours tree. All these years of participating in this annual ritual and we are yet to get a jar! I think he loves them that much that he squirrels them away! Pun intended😉

      1. narf77 says:

        Pickled walnuts are delicious things. I loved them with cheese back when I ate dairy cheese but I dare say some of the new vegan probiotic based cheeses would be almost as good. Time to use a crowbar and see if you can’t extract at least a taste of a few from him😉

  6. Liz says:

    how funny that this pops into m inbox today. I have just made industrial quantities of courgette, oregano and sunflower seed soup this afternoon for a regular lunch club for whom I cook soup each month. I had green courgette so it is a vibrant green colour and creamy from the sunflower seeds. Yummy!

    1. Your soup sounds LUSH! And weirdly my last post involved sunflower seeds in a sorrel pesto. I have made it with oregano, but mine has now gone a bit too scraggly with not enough leaves for pesto, let alone industrial quantities of soup! I’ll be making a big vat of an Egyptian version of lentil soup today – 25 servings to feed two groups. Soup sauna!

  7. laura_howtocook says:

    How glorious is the colour of this soup. It is something that I would love to make myself but will be using more of the round courgettes that just keep on coming, don’t think we put in yellow ones this year. I have another soup myself to post, they just keep on coming. But I love the fact they are one of the healthiest yet most filling meals as well as being economical. Salads are going out and soups are here to stay for Autumn!

  8. This looks so warm and inviting – and its nearly fall when I love to have lots of soup.

  9. So beautiful! We’ve got an over-abundance of zucchini here, so I can’t wait to make something like this. I just know that it won’t be quite as beautiful with my green zucchini as it is with your yellow. I love all the fall colors!

  10. I never realized zucchini could have yellow skin – I’ve always seen it with green. But maybe we we call yellow summer squash is really a variety of zucchini… Anyway, gorgeous soup and love the use of the walnuts! Do you add them at the same time zucchini?

    1. Yes they are. In the family curcubita pepo, which also includes butternut squash. Quite a diverse family! I put zucchini rather than courgette – which is what the British call it – as the words summer squash and yellow courgette might make some people think the soup has to be yellow. Which of course it doesn’t:-) And gosh, just looked to see if I included the walnuts in the method, and hadn’t! Thanks! Will rectify. Add walnuts with the courgettes to soften.

  11. Bernice says:

    This looks like a tasty soup and I love that you add the crunch and flavor of nuts. I like to add cashews to soups and stir fries. Even though the cashew is not as crunchy once cooked, it adds a different texture to the dish.

    1. I like to use cashews too! I often soak them and add to dips (my beetroot hummus is a current favourite – subbing for the chickpeas). Cashews are naturally quite creamy. I thought it would be good to add some omega 3 fats from walnuts to this soup, considering one really has to peel away the ‘good bits’ in this instance. Thanks for commenting, Bernice.

      1. Bernice says:

        That all sounds great!!

  12. thivebyanya says:

    Amazing…I love how you have used non-expensive ingredients to create something nutritional and delicious!

  13. Oh my god look at the colour of the soup. It looks fabulous. We don’t get Yellow Zucchini here just the regular Green one. Maybe I will try it and see how I go. Love Love the recipe.

  14. shannaward says:

    Love it. We have a plethora of zucchini and squash in the garden now. I am loving your blog and can’t wait to read all of your posts.:-)

    1. Aw, thank you so much! I hope to make time to post another zucchini recipe. Meantime, have a look at my recent baked middle eastern vegetable fries – zucchini and eggplant for those. With panko and za’atar.

  15. Kellie, this recipe sounds really yummy. It looks so creamy…. mmmm.

  16. This sounds absolutely delicious – I’m always scared about putting nuts in food unless I’ve seen someone else match the flavours first. I assume this will work ok with the green variety as that’s all that is readily available in the UK?

    1. Oh absolutely. I live in the UK and certainly unless you grow them yourself or have a good farm shop or farmers market then green is what you get. Courgettes are lovely with all nuts. At least I think so!

  17. keraoregan says:

    Oh my does this look amazing! Love that it’s creamy without having any dairy- that seems to be my issue at the moment! Will give it a go next time I find squash! Thanks for sharing!

    1. I know what you mean about dairy. I like cheese, and I don’t really like the non-dairy cheeses so I eat a bit of the real thing. But for creamy soups, most nuts do a brilliant dairy-alike as well as add so many good nutrients and much better fats. I’m pleased you are so taken with this recipe😉

      1. keraoregan says:

        Duh! for some reason I never thought to use nut milks with soup. No idea why. I use a little coconut cream in some but it’s not a flavour that always works. Thanks for letting me know!:) and yes I am very! I am on a cooking buzz at the moment so love fresh ideas!

  18. Arabella says:

    Looks beautiful and I’ll bet it tastes damn’ good, too. But if Omega-3 is a valuable part of walnuts, surely toasting and boiling will destroy the Omega-3? If not specifically wanting naughty but tasty toasted nuts/seeds, I always soak them overnight as this makes them like freshly-harvested again, and with walnuts gets rid of the bitter taste. And the soaking activates the enzymes in the nut which do us so much good. Maybe instead of cooking the walnuts in the soup they could be soaked, chopped and added at the last minute to keep all those nutrients alive?

    1. Good idea. There’s probably not enough omega 3 per serving to make a huge dent in our needs but in principle soaking and adding after boiling would be best. I imagine only the more organised would plan this but I certainly do this for cashews to aid blending. I hope you liked the post otherwise.

      1. Arabella says:

        See my first sentence! Wonderful photo, too – I want to put it on my kitchen wall as inspiration. I know what you mean about planning far enough ahead to soak walnuts overnight… But I tend to have a bowl of nuts soaking as nibbles anyway – I could eat them all day. I’m growing courgettes next summer, so with luck I’ll have a glut this time next year. But I’ll be trying your recipe long before then, ie next week.

      2. I like all nuts just as they are and try to have a variety for family snacking. I’ve got some kilner jars with pistachios and walnuts just now. And a small and dwindling jar of my chocolate-almond butter bites😉 It’s a miracle we are ever hungry for dinner! Thanks for your kind comment about the photo. I don’t see it that way but I am so glad that you do.

  19. Nazima says:

    I too get inspiration for soups from the ageing veggies in the fridge but yout soups and the accompanying garnishes look and sound delicious! I have yet to make my first soup of autumn but you have inspired me. I am always scared of adding nuts for calorie reasons but I guess a little is good with all the omega oils in them

    1. Well, since I made this soup it has pretty much popped back up to being sunny and warm! I continue to eat salads but certainly the nightime temperature is slipping away. Not long before even you southerners join us with soup and bed socks!

  20. Deena Kakaya says:

    What beautiful colours and an unusual sounding combination! Really want to try this soon…sounds so clever! X

  21. mzrubyd says:

    Looks amazing. I’m still using squash and zucchini from my garden, and planned on making cream of zucchini soup, but I think I’ll give this a try instead.

      1. mzrubyd says:

        Yes, both…why not. Both I shall do. :-)

  22. Ella says:

    This soup looks and sounds fabulous! I will have to give this a go.

  23. lindyjacoby says:

    I made this last night and I couldn’t stop eating it! It was so yummy!!! Thank you for a beautiful recipe!

    1. Fantastic! Thanks for letting me know😀

  24. This looks amazing! This is my Friday meal tonight! Great way to use the squash from my garden before the cold weather arrives.

    1. Great to hear that this crazy sounding soup is going to be your dinner. I hope you enjoy it. Happy to help you use up your glut of zucchini

  25. Amazing dish!!! I will cook it soon and will repost this experience in my blog (written in portuguese). I will let you know when I do it!

    1. I will be honoured. Thank you for letting me know. Hope you enjoy it

  26. Made this tonight. Amazing, rich while still being light, and simple! Could not help but add in some apple cider fresh from the farmer’s market along with the other liquid.;-). But it’s not necessary. The lemon zest (and some juice) is enough to brighten it at the end.

    1. Thanks for letting me know Katie! Glad you liked it, and I wholeheartedly approve of your enhancement😀

  27. Jenna says:

    This soup looks beautiful and delicious! To prepare the zucchini do you peel and de-seed the zucchini or do you chop up the whole thing? I’m excited to make it!

    1. If the zucchini are young and not too big (often big ones can have tougher skins, in my experience) just chop and go! I really hope you like it. It’s not seasonal for us now in the UK so I haven’t made it in awhile. But as soon as British courgettes/zucchini are in I’ll be making this again too. Thanks for commenting.

  28. Steph says:

    I used pecans instead of walnuts for this soup. It turned out so well! Thank you for the inspiration!

  29. Daniela James says:

    Lovely recipe – my kids liked it a lot and we`ll be having it quite often I think:)

    1. Thanks for giving me such lovely feedback. I always like comments, especially when I hear children like good homemade food!

  30. This sounds fantastic! love cooking with nuts and I’m nuts for soup too! Will make it soon.

    1. Awesome! It was picked up by buzz feed and Huff Post awhile back so it is still my most popular food post. But it is only now the right time to make it again really. I hope you enjoy it, Karin. Thanks for commenting/:-)

  31. Ruth says:

    How do you get your soup to be so beautifully yellow.? I have made this a couple of times and mine comes out brownish. It tastes delicious, but I am dying for the bright yellow!

    1. Gosh, I guess the skins were just pretty bright :-). I don’t do this but maybe add a pinch of turmeric, dried marigold or saffron. That would sort it I think. And if you use dark walnuts that would muddy the colour, I suppose. I’m glad you like the soup though.

  32. Blanka says:

    Kelly, I just loved it! I am on a candida diet and have difficulty finding good , tasty recipes to take for lunch at work; this soup works out beautifully! Although mine did not turned out a lovely yellow color–more brownish hue but the taste is fabulous. I can see from the photos that you probably added walnut oil and some extra toaster walnuts (or hot pepper flakes?).

    1. I’m so glad you liked it! I was lucky that the summer squash I had were so naturally pigmented but you could maybe add a little saffron to yellow it up. I added a drizzle of oil and a pinch of nuts on top just for garnish, yes. Photographer’s prerogative!

  33. annabelt says:

    This looks really nice. Saved to cook next week – I love walnuts:) Thanks

  34. Tina says:

    This was delicious! We only had green courgette, which was a bit weak on the colour front, but the taste was gorgous! Thanks a lot for sharing!!!

    1. Thanks for the kind feedback. It is a lovely soup, if I say so myself – regardless of they colour of it!

  35. Michelle says:

    Wonderful taste! All I had available today was green zucchini and was wondering if my soup would be green! But my veggie stock was a deep rich brown and that’s the color my soup became. But this is a winner in house. Thank you!

  36. Scarlett says:

    I made this tonight and it was delicious! Saving to my favorites right away! Thank you so much.

If you have time, I would love to hear from you. Thanks so much!

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