Creamy Thai Zucchini and Corn Soup

It’s been quite an exciting week here in Bojon! I got to share a delectable meal with a group of friends outside of Santa Cruz, laughing hysterically as we devoured ginger mules with garden mint, grilled salmon and vegetable skewers, a quinoa salad studded with crunchy sunflower seeds, and a peach pie topped with lemon verbena sour cream ice cream.

My band played our first show at the Sleeping Lady, a lovely restaurant and music venue in Fairfax, along with the awesomely naughty and hilarious McPuzo and Trotsky.

I conquered my fear of making gnocchi, with help from Deb’s book. (I even made them gluten-free – recipe coming soon!)

I spent a day in the studio with Craig Lee, food photographer for the San Francisco Chronicle, and watched him shoot cold noodles and manipulate strobe lights like a magician while answering the ten thousand questions I had about photography. We lunched at a long table with the entire staff of the food section, including such big names as Michael Bauer, Tara Duggan and Miriam Morgan.

(Note to self: start reading the paper.)

When I got home, I found that some kind soul had donated to my site via my nifty new Paypal donate button. That completely made my already wonderful week. (Thanks, Sue!)

And I made this soup, which is full of exciting flavors. Galangal, a rhizome in the ginger family, has a deeper, more robust flavor and tougher texture. Kaffir lime leaves add a delicate perfume to any dish, and Thai basil is kickier than its Genovese cousin.

I combine them all with water and lemongrass for a quick stock which I then add to sauteed scallions, zucchini and corn flavored with serrano chile. After a quick simmer, I let the soup cool a bit, then I puree it with cilantro, coconut milk, and lime juice. Cooling the soup before blending in the cilantro helps to preserve its bright color.

The soup is creamy and smooth with the delicate flavors of coconut, lime juice, and lemongrass. It gets floral, herbaceous notes from the kaffir lime and Thai basil, and a little heat from the chiles. I add fresh corn kernels for crunch, and a pretty swirl of coconut milk on top. It’s just the thing to use up excess zucchini…

and add a little excitement to your week.

{Also, on Saturday September 21st, yoga instructor Kimberly Hu and I are collaborating to present YOGA + YUM: a mini retreat to nourish mind, body and soul. After a 75 minute yoga class taught by Kim, I’ll demonstrate how to make a few of my favorite vegan and gluten-free recipes: Mint and Celery Sodas, a variation of these Creamy Sesame Noodles with Crispy Tofu, and Chocolate Chile Coconut Milk Truffles, all of which we get to eat and drink, of course! The event will be held at Kim’s studio in the Dogpatch area of San Francisco from 10:30-1:30pm. Space is limited, and advanced booking (here) is required. $40 for the whole shebang.}

Zillions of zucchini:

Roasted Vegetable Sopa Azteca with Sweet Corn and Zucchini
Zucchini Cilantro Soup with Chile and Mint
Roasted Eggplant, Chickpea, and Summer Vegetable Tagine

One year ago:

Potato Salad with Green Beans and Fresh Cranberry Beans

Two years ago:

Quick Cucumber Onion Pickles

Three years ago:

Banana-Rum Upside-Down Cakelets

Creamy Thai Zucchini and Corn Soup with Coconut Milk, Kaffir Lime and Lemongrass

This soup is worth a trip to an Asian grocer to find kaffir lime leaves, galangal and lemongrass; though you may come across them at a healthy foodie store if you’re lucky. Ginger can be substituted for the galangal, though its flavor is a bit softer, so you may need to add more. If you can’t find lime leaves, use an extra stalk or two of lemongrass. Regular basil can stand in for its Thai brethren. Give yourself time to let the soup cool before adding the cilantro and lime; this will keep the flavors fresh and the color bright.

Makes 6 servings

The Stock:
3 stalks lemongrass, chopped into 1″ lengths
10 (1/4 inch thick) coins galangal (or ginger)
10 large kaffir lime leaves, lightly crushed
6 cups water
4 bushy sprigs thai basil, plus a few leaves for garnish

The soup:
2 large bunches scallions, white and light green parts only, sliced
4 cobs of corn, peeled
1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 small serrano chiles, halved, seeds and ribs removed, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt, more to taste
1 1/2 pounds small zucchini, trimmed and chopped
3/4 cup coconut milk, plus a few tablespoons for garnish
half a bunch of cilantro leaves, plus a few leaves for garnish
juice of 1-2 limes

Make the stock:
In a large saucepan, combine the lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, and water. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a bare simmer; simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the thai basil sprigs, then cover and steep for 10 minutes. Strain the stock, discarding the aromatics and reserving the stock.

Make the soup:
Meanwhile, soak the chopped scallions in cool water, swishing them a few times to dislodge any sandy dirt that can hang out in their crevices.

Meanwhile, prepare the corn. Stand a cob on its end in a shallow, wide bowl, and use a sharp paring knife to slice off the upper half of the kernels. Use the back of the knife to scrape the cob into the bowl as well. Repeat with the remaining cobs. Reserve one third of the kernels to finish the soup.

In a wide soup pot, melt the coconut oil over medium heat. Lift the scallions out of the water with your fingers, shake off excess water, and add to the pot along with the chopped serranos. Cook, stirring frequently, until the scallions are wilted and tender, 5 minutes. Add the zucchini, the two-thirds corn kernels and scrapings, 1 teaspoon salt, and enough stock to cover the vegetables. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook, partially covered, until the zucchini is tender but still bright green, about 15 minutes.

Let the soup cool to warm room temperature, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to release the steam. (this will preserve the bright color and flavor when you add the cilantro and lime). Add the cilantro leaves, and puree with a blender or immersion blender until very smooth. Blend in the coconut milk, and the juice of one lime. Taste, adding more lime or salt until the flavors taste bright.

Re-warm the soup gently over a low flame. Ladle into bowls, and top with the remaining corn kernels, a drizzle of coconut milk, and a few cilantro and basil leaves. Serve with additional lime wedges, if you desire.

I like this soup best within the first day or two, but extras will keep for up to a few days in the refrigerator.

19 thoughts on “Creamy Thai Zucchini and Corn Soup”

  1. This soup sounds so good–and it's certainly exactly perfect for what's in season right now! Maybe a few of the ten ears of corn in my fridge will end up in soup. :)

    1. Thank you for the kind words, Joshua! This was my first time working with galangal, too, and it was kind of a trip. I still have a bit of it in the fridge; I'm trying to figure out what else to do with it. :)

  2. Oh man, this soup. So my favorite thing to do with tons of zukes at the end of summer is turn them into a million servings of zucchini sauce then freeze 'em for the winter, but this is giving that old habit some serious competition. The flavors sound like such an awesome marriage between summer and fall, and I am a sucker for coconut milk + cilantro + lemongrass + heat all year round. Also, I've been wanting to get my hands on some galangal! I read about it a little bit last year and was really intrigued. I haven't seen it around these parts, alas, but maybe I'm not looking in the right places. (:

    1. Zucchini sauce? Yum! What do you do with it?

      Yes, I love those southeast Asian ingredients! I hope you manage to get your hands on some galangal – you'll love it. Have you looked in Asian markets?

  3. After finding you on PInterest- I made this last night! Thank you for the recipe and beautiful inspiring photos! It was fun going on a treasure hunt at the grocery store for ingredients I've never cooked with before: galangal, serrano peppers, keffir lime leaves?! (OHmigosh! So lovely smooshing them in my hands. I ran around my apartment wanting my guy to smell them.)

    The only problem I ran into was, 6 cups wasn't enough stock for me? I think I needed a cup and a half more to cover my vegetables. Small thang.. Annnd.. I don't have an immersion blender, so getting the whole soup through my tiny food processor was a feat. Well worth it though!

    I ate it this morning for breakfast too.
    Wooot!

    1. Hi Meredith, I'm so glad you tried the soup! Thanks for the feedback about not having enough stock – good to know. I need to do something with the rest of my kaffir lime leaves, too – I love the way they smell! And I'm a fan of soup for breakfast, too.

      I have a plastic immersion blender I'm looking to offload – it works great, but I got a newer metal one. If you want to come to SF to get it, it's yours! :)

  4. Thanks to a current zucchini glut I have been perusing your delicious recipes (as usual). I froze some of the soup and kept out the cilantro – I think I’ll add after defrosting. This soup is also good cold – no I was NOT eating it straight out of the fridge with a spoon that’s ridiculous!! A creamy gazpacho.

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