Chilled Zucchini Soup

"This recipe came about as a happy accident, when my nephew mistook zucchini for cucumbers when we were making a cold cucumber soup," chef Vishwesh Bhatt says of the origins of this dish. More than a decade later, he stands by the result, which has a tangy buttermilk broth that gets subtle vegetal sweetness and a wonderfully smooth, creamy texture from the zucchini. Small, tender zucchini are perfect for this soup. If you're using bigger ones, remove the seeds, which harden a little as the squash matures, Bhatt notes.  "It becomes a little less fun if you get those in the soup, as you have to chew on them, or they get stuck in your teeth." Bhatt tops the soup with vaghaar, a garnish of tempered spices and aromatics, for a final burst of aroma and flavor.

Chilled Zucchini Soup
Photo: Cedric Angeles
Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 45 mins
2 to 4 servings



  • 1 medium-size fresh poblano chile (about 3 ounces)

  • 2 tablespoons neutral cooking oil (such as canola oil)

  • ½ cup chopped yellow onion (from 1 small onion)

  • ½ cup chopped fennel (from 1 medium fennel bulb)

  • 3 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon)

  • 5 cups chopped zucchini (from 2 large [12-ounce] zucchini)

  • 3 cups vegetable stock

  • 1 cup buttermilk

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (from 1 small lemon)

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

Vaghaar (Garnish)

  • 2 tablespoons neutral cooking oil

  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds

  • 2 whole star anise

  • 1 chile de árbol, broken in half

  • 1 (4-inch) curry sprig


Make the soup:

  1. Preheat oven to broil with rack 6 inches from heat. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place poblano on prepared baking sheet. Broil in preheated oven until skin is charred all over, about 10 minutes, turning occasionally using tongs. Remove from oven; transfer poblano to a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and set aside 10 minutes to steam. Transfer poblano to a cutting board; peel off and discard skin. Remove and discard seeds and stem. Chop poblano, and set aside.

  2. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium. Add onion, fennel, and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is turning golden and fennel has softened, about 10 minutes. Add zucchini and chopped poblano; cook, stirring constantly, until zucchini starts to sweat, about 2 minutes. Add stock; bring to a simmer over medium. Cover and cook until zucchini is tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in buttermilk, mint, lemon juice, and salt. Let cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Using an immersion blender, process mixture until completely smooth, about 45 seconds. Chill until cold, at least 2 hours or up to 6 hours.

Make the vaghaar:

  1. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium-high. Add mustard seeds; cook, tossing constantly, until seeds start to pop, 15 to 20 seconds. Add star anise, chile de árbol, and curry sprig; cook, tossing and swirling constantly, until curry leaves start to crackle and wilt, about 1 minute. Pour hot mixture onto soup. Stir, add additional salt to taste, and serve.

Make Ahead

Soup can be prepared through step 2 up to 6 hours in advance.


Serve soup chilled in the summer and hot in the winter.

Suggested Pairing

Bright, light-bodied red: 2020 Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages

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