Serves 6 to 8
30 minutes prep, 20 minutes cooking, 50 minutes total
In truth, I came upon this perennial favorite of the Soupies using my most trusted and successful research technique: theft from a grandmother. A good friend named Brigitte, of the Austinite sub-species Priori manhattanitus, sat me down to a bowl of this, her Algerian Jewish grandmother's recipe. At the time, I couldn't afford a commercial immersion blender, so I couldn't produce it in quantity until a year later.


  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 large zucchini, diced
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • Juice of 4 lemons, or to taste
  • 2 bunches cilantro, coarsely chopped, stems included
  • Salt


1. Heat the oil in the bottom (where else?) of your soup pot over medium-high heat. The oil should form a deep puddle. Add the onions and sauté them slowly, longingly, until they are limpid, about 15 minutes.

2. Add the potatoes, zucchini, and tomato paste. Just barely cover with water, turn the heat to high, and cover. Once brought to a strong simmer, turn the heat down to medium-low.

3. When the potatoes are very soft and the zucchini has given itself to the soup, about 20 minutes, turn off the heat. Add the lemon juice and cilantro, and season to taste with salt. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup to a smooth consistency; alternatively, working in batches, puree in a regular blender until smooth. The soup should shimmer in the ambient light. Serve hot or cold.

From The Soup Peddler's Slow & Difficult Soups: Recipes & Reveries by David Ansel (Ten Speed Press, 2005). © 2005 by David Ansel.