Cold Zucchini Soup with Cinnamon, Cumin, and Buttermilk

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Cooking One on One

Cooking One on One

By John Ash

Published 2004

  • About

This is a quick and simple soup. It’s a wonderful base to which you can add all manner of things, including cooked shrimp, sautéed mushrooms, or spring peas, to name a few. I often will drizzle on a little fragrant nut oil as a garnish. Serve the soup chilled or at room temperature. We don’t always think about serving soup at room temperature, but it’s a nice variation on a warm day.

The buttermilk commercially available today is not a by-product of butter-making, as it was in the old days, but is just cultured skim milk. It’s very low in fat, but also quite bland. If you can find good-quality buttermilk, such as Russian or Bulgarian or one from a specialty producer, the soup will be that much tastier.


  • cups homemade chicken or vegetable stock or your favorite canned broth
  • 1 pound zucchini, ends trimmed, chopped into large chunks
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow or white onion
  • ½ teaspoon seeded and minced serrano chiles, or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon whole fennel seeds
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • cups good quality buttermilk
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper


In a Soup pot over high heat, bring the stock to a boil and add the zucchini. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the zucchini is barely tender but still bright green. Remove the pot from the heat and let cool.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a small, nonstick frying pan. Add the onion, chile, fennel, cinnamon, and cumin, and sauté until the onion is soft but not brown and the spices are fragrant.

Combine both mixtures together in a blender or food processor, and pulse until well chopped but still with some texture (of course, you can puree it completely if you want, but I prefer mine a little rough). Pour into a bowl, stir in the buttermilk, then season with salt and pepper. Chill for at least 2 hours. Taste again at serving time, adding more salt and pepper if you think it needs it. Serve garnished with a sprinkling of cilantro or mint and wedges of lemon or lime, if desired.


If you like with chopped fresh cilantro or mint leaves and lime or lemon wedges