Cream of Zucchini Soup ♥

Cream of Zucchini Soup ♥ using Julia Child's master no-cream base for creamy vegetable soups, tastes rich for only 100 calories per cup.
Julia Child's "master recipe" for a no-cream cream soup, the base is made with onion and rice and is surprisingly full-flavored and rich-tasting. Here, I used Julia's master recipe to make Cream of Zucchini Soup but the same base can be used for other "Cream of" Vegetable Soups too. Just 100 calories per cup!

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. To celebrate Julia Child's birthday on August 15th, I decided to dip my little finger into the big mixing bowl that is Julia Child.

Julia Child's own signature inscribed in her Way to Cook cookbook
Lucky! My friend Linda sent me home with a Julia Child cookbook – signed by none other than Julia Child herself!! Linda also shared a new perspective on Julia Child, one different than the boozy and wheedling woman at the stove in my mind. At culinary conferences, Linda reports, Julia was just another foodie and 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 too, embracing (hugging!) the medium with the likes of others of cookbook fame, Dorie Greenspan, Rose Levy Beranbaum and David Lebovitz.

Wanting my world to be rocked, I thumbed the pages for ideas. The book at hand wasn'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, and 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!

Her Cream of Zucchini Soup called to me! It uses a master recipe that Julia Child also applies to Cream of Chicken & Vegetable Soup, Cream of Cucumber Soup, Cream of Cauliflower Soup, Cream of Cauliflower Soup – see what I mean about a basic technique with adaptations? The base is a an onion-rice-liquid mixture that is incredibly flavorful and completely creamy. The big surprise? It tastes a lot like Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup, except fresh!

And yes, my world is rocked! Not in earthquake fashion but plenty. The soup is 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-y soup even on a 100+ degree, even-the-dog-doesn't-want-out kind of day.

Thank you, Linda, for the reason to wipe (lick?!) the bowl that is Julia! And Julia? Happy Birthday!

"This is very tasty!" ~ Anonymous


Hands-on time: 35 minutes
Time to table: 75 minutes
Makes 10 cups

Use this base for all kinds of different soups.

2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, diced
1/2 cup uncooked rice
4 cups liquid

Or use broccoli for Cream of Broccoli, etc.

1-1/2 pounds zucchini, ends trimmed, skin on, grated
4 additional cups liquid
1/2 cup sour cream (or Greek yogurt or cream or crème fraîche)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Salt, to taste
Fresh herbs, for garnish (chive for me, Julia suggests tarragon or parsley)

"NO CREAM" CREAMY FLAVOR BASE 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, until the onions turn golden, about 10 minutes. Add 4 cups liquid and let cook, stirring occasionally, until the rice is soft rice is soft, about 30 minutes.

For CREAM OF ZUCCHINI SOUP Stir about three-quarters 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 until 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 plus the remaining one-quarter zucchini and the additional 4 cups of liquid to the pot. Let cook for about 5 minutes, just until the zucchini is barely cooked. Stir in the sour cream and stir well until 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!

LIQUIDS Julia Child says to use water or broth or milk or a combination of these for the liquids. I use vegetable stock or chicken stock for the first four cups and low-fat milk for the last four cups.
IN A RUSH? You can speed things up a bit by heating water or stock (any non-dairy liquid) for the base in the microwave while starting the butter, onion and rice. It's an optional step that speeds things along. You could heat all 8 cups at the same time but I always do this in a four-cup Pyrex dish that fits easily in the dishwasher, hence, four cups at a time. You really can't conveniently warm milk in the microwave without scorching it so if using all milk, I'd skip this step entirely.
GIANT ZUCCHINI Yay! Baseball bat zucchini work great here, just do a little taste test first. If it's bitter? It probably belongs in the compost pile. But if it's not? A great way to use a huge overgrown zucchini. If it's seedy, cut out the center spongy center and seeds before grating.
GRATING ZUCCHINI This is easy enough with a hand grater, takes just a couple of minutes even for so much zucchini.
FREEZING FOR LATER I love the idea of freezing the partially made soup to have on hand for making quick pots of soup down the road. I'd freeze it in either of two stages. First, just the base, the onion-rice-liquid stage, although I'd probably run it through the blender too; this would be best to have on hand for making different kinds of soups, not just zucchini. Second, the onion-rice-liquid-zucchini stage, this would be for making zucchini soup later. FYI, milk-based soups don't freeze well (nor ones with dairy products like sour cream or yogurt), so keep that in mind, in part, that's why I recommend these two possibilities for freezing.

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Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. 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!!

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

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

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

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

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

  11. 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!

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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