Squash has been around for a very long time. Experts say that it is at least 10,000 years old and has been cultivated for more than 8,000 years with the earliest farmers traced back to Mexico.
It is no wonder given its quick germination, abundant and early blossoms, fast growing vines and easily stored seeds. It is why they were so abundant in indigenous diets and they are oh, so good for you! Rich in vitamin A, B and C it also is an excellent source of fiber and the yellow squash varieties improve bone strength and help your body breakdown fat and carbohydrates.
Both flowers and veggies are edible and delicious and the dried gourds served as storage containers and as rattles used in ceremonial dances. They were also highly treasured for their beauty and ornamental value. Not much has changed.
I first tasted squash blossom soup in Mexico City many years ago. It’s presentation reeled me in with its golden orange color and bold garnish: a full blossom and an espazote leaf. Their soup was creamy with only the blossoms adding texture. My recipe adds finely chopped zucchini, green chile and potato to increase the textural interest along with fresh blossoms and cilantro. I do not have access to espazote so I substitute. You can also use flat parsley but, be thoughtful with your additions; the flavor of the blossoms is delicate and subtle, so you need to carefully select flavor enhancers for the soup base and a garnish that will not overshadow the star of this beautiful dish.
12 squash blossoms
½ Vidalia onion, diced
2 zucchini, peeled and diced, divided
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 Yukon gold potato, peeled and diced
1 yellow summer squash, peeled and diced
3 cups chicken broth
½ cup green chile, roasted, peeled and diced
4 oz. cream cheese, room temp
½ cup heavy cream
2 Tbsps. butter
2 Tbsps. olive oil
½ tsp. sea salt
¼ cup cilantro leaves
Remove stems and pistils from the blossoms. Set six blossoms aside and rough chop the remaining six and place them at the bottom of your food blender.
In a heavy skillet sauté the onion and carrot in butter and olive oil until onions are transparent. Add 1 chopped zucchini and the chopped yellow summer squash, reduce heat and cover cooking for 5-7 minutes or until the zucchini is tender. Add these veggies to the blender and cover with chicken broth. Purée for 3-4 minutes until smooth and place back into the skillet.
Add potato and remaining zucchini, bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer covered for 15-18 minutes or until potato is tender. Add chile and cream and stir until well combined and bubbling hot. Reserve two blossoms for garnish. Tear or gently slice the others into thick strips and fold into hot soup. Tear or cut reserved blossoms into thirds and use along with cilantro as garnish. Serves 6.
Squash blossoms. Photo by Liddie Martinez