Friday, January 12, 2007

Zucchini Velouté

At the last farmers' market, the Christmas ornament sized Globe Zucchini had grown somewhat. Though I considered them too big to stuff, they still had me with their cute factor so I purchased them all the same.

What to do with them soon came to me. Rather than slicing off the top, why not slice them through the centre and use them as the bowls - bowls that would contain a soup made from it's "innards". It seems to be done all the time with pumpkins why not zucchini?

With such a pretty bowl I couldn't just make an ordinary soup. After-all it's not that I would be offering a large serving of soup, so something a bit rich would be the go. So I came up with this velouté inspired soup.

Now the term velouté seems to have been appropriated to cover any rich, creamy soup whereas traditionally it's use applied to soup thickened with egg yolks, butter and cream. It should be noted that velouté also applies to a sauce made with stock and thickened with a roux.

As zucchini has a fairly mild flavour I didn't want to lose it in a battery of dairy products and egg yolks. So I simplified the whole soup to try to get to the essence of zucchini and use the cream to lengthen the flavours I've obtained.

In this dish, I've used a small leek - to keep in the spirit of subtle flavours, flesh of the cored zucchini and no stock at all. All the liquid that forms comes from the zucchini itself. It's then blended until smooth and cream is added and then frothed again to lighten the texture.

To make it a little more special, I've served the soup with sansho seasoned fresh scallops, quickly seared to retain their sweet juices. It may be a little rich but we all deserve special treats and this is one treat that's just perfect to share with that special someone.

zucchini velouté© by haalo


Zucchini Velouté
[Serves 2]

1 large Globe zucchini
1 small leek, white part, diced finely
salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste
¼ cup cream, approximately
2 scallops, roe removed
sasho pepper

First off, slice off the hardened stem of the zucchini to make a flat base, then turning it on it's side, slice it straight down the centre. You now have two halves that will sit flat.

Now hollow out each half. I just used the same method described here.

Use the tip of your knife to score a deep cross into the flesh, then take a spoon and following the curve of the zucchini, push it in and scoop out a rough quarter of the pulp. You just continue following the natural curve with your spoon to hollow out the zucchini. These are a lot easier to do than the stuffed ones. Keep all the flesh you've removed and roughly chop it into a finer dice.

zucchini bowls© by haalo


Here are the finished "bowls" - I won't be boiling them as I want them to stay as firm as possible.

To make the soup:

Place a small knob of butter and a little oil (I use oil to stop the butter browning ) into a saucepan over a low heat - let the butter melt before adding the leeks. Sauté these, without browning for a few minutes until soft. Add the chopped zucchini flesh, stir well and cook slowly for 5 to ten minutes. It's important that you don't get any colour into the soup.

Season with a little salt and white pepper - you'll notice as the zucchini softens it will release a lot of liquid, more than enough for the soup.

Using a wand/stick blender makes the next part really easy as it all can be done in one pot. You need to blend the flesh until smooth - taste again for seasoning. Then add between a quarter and a third of a cup cream. Let it slowly come back up to temperature before giving it another blend to aerate the mixture before pouring it out into each bowl.

Cook the scallops:

In a small dish add a little oil and the two scallops, turning to ensure they are well coated. Sprinkle over with a sansho pepper.
Heat up a fry-pan and when hot add the scallops, sansho side down. Sprinkle the other side with a little sansho too. You want to cook this really quickly and to get a nice crust on the scallops - about 15-30 seconds. Turn and just seal the other side - about 15 seconds.

Place the scallop in the centre of each bowl and serve.

zucchini velouté© by haalo


The sansho works so well here, it adds such an appealing fragrant spice to the dish. The soup itself tastes quite decadent yet it's the flavour of zucchini that lingers. Perhaps, a dish well suited for Valentines Day.

12 comments:

  1. Absolutely amazing! You never cease to amaze me with your cooking skill and flair for photography! Beautiful, as always :)

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  2. I love the bowls! Why haven't I ever done that when my garden is overrun with zucchini??

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  3. Haalo, you are so creative and skilled!

    These zucchini bowls are beautiful and the soup looks delicious.

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  4. Looks beautiful! You are a clever thing, aren't you.

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  5. Haalo - you've hit one of my sore spots. It looks great and I bet it tastes great and, as always, you've photographed it stunningly! So I hate to criticise (especially someone I'm so fond of) but a velouté it ain't, I'm afraid. A velouté is a roux made into a white sauce with white meat or fish stock. Unfortunately it's a term that's currently being abused around the restaurant world, rather like the term confit which I've seen applied to tomatoes.

    Did you know, btw, that the zucchini we get in England, known as courgette, is nothing like this size and more like a small marrow. You'd have a hard job putting any soup inside one, whatever you called it!

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  6. oh my! What a beautiful soup! :)

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  7. Thanks so much Ellie!

    Thanks Brilynn - now you can make your own bowls!

    Thanks Patricia - there's just enough soup in each bowl that makes you feel just right.

    Thank you Sara - it's very kind of you.

    Trig - I do agree that this isn't a velouté I even make mention of what a real velouté is in the post. Perhaps I should have called it velouté-ish to make that point more obvious. These aren't our normal zucchini either, these are the globe zucchini which I'm only seeing more of in recent months. The more marrow looking zucchini are what we consider our normal zucchini.
    Perhaps I should mention my bugbear is when zucchini are called courgette in English/Italian cookbooks ;)

    Thanks Anh!

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  8. Very cute! I love edible bowls :)

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  9. Touchėe! I promise when I'm a professional I'll always try to call everything by its local and traditional name. Keep it up.

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  10. Thanks Y!

    That could be quite the challenge Trig ;)

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  11. This is inspired! I've never seen a globe zucchini, and I think the idea of the soup bowls such an artistic florish for delicious, fresh food.

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  12. Thanks TW - I found out from Kalyn that they are also called 8 ball zucchini in the US.

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