Cream of Zucchini Soup ♥

Rock my world, Julia Child ...Until food blogging, I learned all I knew about Julia Child from Saturday Night Live caricatures so honestly, just don't share the typical foodie reverence of all-things-Julia. Still when Lisa of Champaign Taste (great name for a food blog from Champaign, Illinois, yes?!) announced the second-annual celebration of Julia Child's birthday on August 15th, I was in, if only to dip my little finger into the big mixing bowl that is Julia Child.

Cookbook inscribed by Julia ChildLucky, my friend Linda sent me home with a Julia Child cookbook -- signed by none other than Julia Child herself!! -- and an impression other than a boozy and wheedling woman at the stove. At culinary conferences, Linda reports, Julia was just another foodie, just another cook albeit a decidedly famous one, somehow able to make each one around her feel special. I like to think that if Julia were still of this world, she would be a blogger, embracing (hugging!) the medium like a few others of cookbook fame, Dorie Greenspan, Rose Levy Beranbaum, David Lebovitz, Harold McGee.

Wanting my world to be rocked, I thumbed the pages for ideas. The book at hand isn't the famed Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume One (and Volume Two) but instead Julia Child's The Way to Cook, not French, no, but classic for sure, a great choice for someone with some kitchen skills, more a book of master techniques and applications than a collection of recipes. If price is an indicator of the breadth and extent of this 500-page book, the retail price in 1989 was $50, wow.

The Cream of Zucchini Soup called to me, using a master recipe base of Rice & Onion Soup Base that is also applied to Cream of Chicken & Vegetable Soup, Cream of Cucumber Soup, Cream of Cauliflower Soup, Cream of Cauliflower Soup with Broccoli -- see what I mean about a basic technique with adaptations?

And yes, my world is rocked, not in earth-quake fashion but plenty. The soup was made almost from air - a bit of butter and onion for flavor; rice for substance; broth for volume; zucchini for color and more flavor; sour cream for creaminess. It was gorgeous and perfectly summer-ish even on a 100+ degree, even-the-dog-doesn't-want-out kind of day.

Thanks, Lisa, for the reason to wipe (lick?!) the bowl that is Julia! And Julia? happy birthday!

FROM THE ARCHIVES See the Recipe Box for all the zucchini recipes, especially if you're looking for recipes for stuffed zucchini or stuffed pattypan squash, both very pretty and way easier to make than they appear.

A YEAR AGO THIS WEEK Baked Parmesan Tomatoes ... "Oh so simple! Just tomato halves topped with a few ribbons of Parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of just-snipped herbs from the garden, oregano on some, chive on the other."

TWO YEARS AGO Greek Greens ... this has become one of my do-it-all-the-time staples, a great way to 'hold' fresh leafy greens for a day or so


Hands-on time: 35 minutes
Time to table: 75 minutes
Makes 8 cups

8 cups liquid (water or broth or milk or a combination)

2 tablespoons butter
1 - 2 cups diced yellow onion (any onion except a sweet onion is good)
1/2 cup uncooked rice (I used brown jasmine)

1 1/2 pounds zucchini, ends trimmed, skin on, grated (easy enough with a hand grater)
1/2 cup sour cream (or cream or crème fraîche)
Fresh herbs, for garnish (I used chive, Julia suggested tarragon or parsley)

Bring 4 cups of the liquid to a boil in the microwave. (This is an optional step that speeds things along. You could heat all 8 cups at the same time but I do it in a four-cup Pyrex dish that fits easily in the dishwasher so do this in two steps with no delay. You really can't conveniently warm milk in the microwave without scorching it so if using all milk, I'd skip this step entirely.) When the first 4 cups have been added to the soup, warm the remaining 4 cups of liquid in the microwave.

Meanwhile, in a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter til shimmery on MEDIUM HIGH. Add the onion and rice, stir to coat with fat. Let cook, stirring frequently and adjusting heat if necessary, til onions turn golden, about 10 minutes. Add the first 4 cups liquid and let cook, stirring occasionally, til rice is soft, about 30 minutes.

Stir in 3/4 of the grated zucchini and let cook for about 5 minutes, until zucchini is quite soft. In batches transfer soup to a blender and whiz til smooth. (Since the liquid is hot, to avoid burning yourself and making a HUGE mess, don't fill the blender more than half full and do hold on tight to the top of the blender. Since you're working in batches, you can put the blended soup into the bowl with the remaining zucchini.) Return all the soup and the remaining zucchini and the second 4 cups of liquid to the pot. Let cook for about 5 minutes, til the zucchini is barely cooked. Stir in the sour cream and stir well til diffused throughout the soup and warmed through. (Little pockets of sour cream are great, don't worry if you don't get them all.) Top with fresh herbs, serve and savor!

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What a great way to use up zucchini! I bet it was lovely with the jasmine rice.

Btw, thanks for posting about my sister and me on Blogher -- she was thrilled!!

Alanna, this is gorgeous. I want to dip a spoon into that bowl of soup right now! And I love the wonderful photo of the autographed page, with the flower. Thank you for the soup and the post.

Geepers, can I be honest and tell you
Alanna I saw Zucchini Soup and thought, don't want to go there. Then I read about Julia Child and you thinking if she were here now she'd be a blogger. Everything I read and see about her tells me you are spot on. So I click thru and read.
Now I'd really love a bowl of this soup. Thank you once again.

Great recipe. You should read "Julie/Julia," which I'm sure you've heard of. I loved the book.

I love that cookbook. It's the one from Julia Child that we use the most. Filled with master recipes. Happy Birthday, Julia!

This sounds totally delicious. I'll be making this as soon as I can get my hands on some more zucchini.

I'm quite sure if she were here now Julia child would be blogging away, and doing with a great deal of humor! Very fun that you got to cook from an autographed book too.

That looks very creamy and delicious, Alanna! Love the addition of the rice.
I love Julia...and really recommend the book "my life in France", it is *such* a good read.
On the other hand, did not care for "Julie/ Julia" at all.

Hi Alanna,
It's my first time here. I was blog-hopping and landed here.
You have a great collection of vegetarian recipes. I have only seen a couple right now but will come back later for more.
Your Zucchini soup looks good. I have tried making Zucchini pancakes before but never a soup.Thanks for the recipe.

Alanna - have you read the Julie/Julia Project. Its a very funny book about a blogger and Julia Child.
This looks so pretty - a lovely delicate colour.
We are on M for mushrooms at present...which is just as well because it is rain rain rain in the UK now and that really suits fungi!

Jennifer ~ Use up, for sure, but honestly, this is worth GETTING zucchini for. And StephenCooks has told me he's doing it with yellow squash, the color is already pretty and he's going to bump it up with turmeric and/or saffron. So. And you're so welcome about the Blogher post, your piece about cooking with your sister was just lovely, 'post of the year' work.

Lisa ~ Thanks! The autograph turned out to be meaningful to me, too. Thanks for hosting!

Tanna ~ Understood! On both counts. Wouldn't it be something if Julia were blogging?!!

Kelly ~ Thanks for the tip, it might have been her blog (or else Chocolate & Zucchini) which turned me onto blogging.

Elise ~ Ah, that's so good to know, that's for saying. The "master recipe" idea is definitely something that I buy into.

Sara ~ Luckily, this time of year it's not so hard to get zucchini!

Kalyn ~ Thanks!

Nupur ~ The rice, yes, gives the soup a substance, that's appreciated.

TBC ~ Thanks for visiting! Just so you know, A Veggie Venture isn't vegetarian but it IS vegetables.

Charlotte ~ Your mushroom-growing experience is fasinating! Strange fungi appear in my garden mulch but I sure wouldn't risk eating them!

The Way to Cook is a great cookbook. The way it breaks things into master recipes and variations is a wonderful way to learn to improvise in the kitchen. Nice post.

I can see why this soup would call to you; it's calling to me right now! I have so much zucchini in the fridge right now; you've just given me a great way to use it.

I enjoyed this information about Julia Childs...and the zuchinni soup recipe. Wow! Fifty dollars for a cookbook that long ago...maybe I read this wrong. Meg

My garden is full of zucchini and we've had pancakes, chocolate cake, and all manner of veggies in the pan, oven and grill, but no soup. Thank you for the recipe. Julia also was a spy, cooking was just her cover.

This is very tasty! I used white rice. For my liquid, I used 4 cups water (with 1 tablespoon Better than Bullion Chicken) and 4 cups milk. I used some dried tarragon. The zucchini shreds are noodle-like, I think. BTW, you don't say when to add the herbs, I just added mine with the second batch of zucchini.

Anonymous ~ Thanks for taking the time to share your variations, also for pointing out the herbs information, I've adjusted the post to reflect using them as garnish but what you did obviously works too!

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna