Refreshing and easy soup made with zucchini and miso. It’s a perfect dish for Summer as a starter or a light meal. Vegan and gluten-free friendly recipe.
If you have followed this space for a while, you know I love chilled soups esp this time of the year. In the past, I have shared vichyssoise (potato and leek soup), which by the way is in rotation all year long and gazpacho (chilled tomato soup); recipe here and here. The idea of cold soup can be jarring at first but honestly, when you get a perfect balance of flavors and velvety texture, it really doesn’t get better than that on a hot Summer day. Zucchini is growing abundantly at the moment so I am taking advantage of this mild, tender vegetable and decided to marry it with homemade miso I made back in December ‘20.
Miso is a fermented paste made typically made with soybeans, salt and koji (a mold named Aspergillus oryzae, which is used for making sake and as a seasoning and a curing agent). There are many types of miso and depending on how long it’s aged, the type of beans and grain used and the proportions of the ingredients, the flavor can be sweet or salty, mild or pungent.
Introduced to Japan by mainland China and the Korean Peninsula during the 7th Century, miso has become an indispensable seasoning in Japanese cuisine. Miso is a versatile pantry staple for me as it can be used beyond the miso soup. Instead of using bouillon cubes or ready-made broth, I often use miso in various soups, stews for it’s umami, salty flavors. Miso is a great vehicle for marinades, glazes, salad dressings, and more.
If you are new to miso, try the shiro miso (white miso) which is is mild and sweet. You can find them at most grocery stores (esp Asian grocers) in the refrigerated area usually by produce and other refrigerated condiments.
The recipe for Chilled Zucchini and Miso Soup is pretty straightforward; it requires sauteing few basic ingredients in a stock pot, letting it simmer, taste and adjust seasonings and blend until smooth. You can eat the soup warm or room temperature but I find it’s best when it’s chilled for a couple of hours.
Chilled Zucchini and Miso Soup (Vegan Recipe)
For 3-4 small servings (or 2 large servings)
2 teaspoon olive oil (or any neutral oil)
½ cup chopped onion
1 medium size (250-ish gram, about 2 cups chopped)
1 heaping tablespoon miso
1-1.5 cups water (start with 1 cup and add more as needed)
salt and pepper to taste
To serve: pickled avocado, pickled tomato, or anything with acidity and olive oil. For some added texture, serve some crackers or bread sticks on the side.
Heat oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add chopped onions and cook stirring occasionally until it is tender but not brown. It should take 3-4 minutes.
Add chopped zucchini to the pot with onion. Add miso paste and 1 cup of water and bring it to a simmer. Season generously with salt and black peper to taste. Make sure the water covers the zucchini and onion mixture. Simmer until the zucchini is very tender, for about 15 minutes.
Once the zucchini is cooked, turn off the heat and let the soup cool for at least 20 minutes. Use a stick blender or a regular blender to puree it into a smooth mixture. Add little water only if needed to run the blender.
Transfer pureed soup to a large bowl and chill until cold, for at least 30-45 minutes.
When ready to serve, adjust any salt or pepper.
Garnish with pickled avocado, pickled tomatoes, crackers, and a good drizzle of olive oil.
**Miso I am using only has soybeans (and no other grains), which makes it gluten-free but not all miso paste is gluten-free. Do check the label for gluten-containing grains like barley or wheat.