My friends Rob Barba and John Charmello gave me this zuchetta rampicante from their backyard garden.

Honestly, I’ve never prepared one before. But, it is from the squash family, and since there’s a bit of chill in the air, I decided to make a soup. I also wanted to see if I could infuse a bit of smokiness into it, so I decided to put my smoker and a few mesquite chips to work as well.

The first step is preparing the zuchetta rampicante. The seeds are located in the ball end and they are easy to scoop out with a spoon. I sliced the whole thing into thirds and, with my potato peeler in hand, I peed away the skin off of all parts.

Zucchini-ZucPeeledNotSlice Zucchini-ZucHalfSeed

Next, I just split the ball end and scraped away the seeds. I cubed everything into about 1” pieces, put them on a baking sheet, tossed them in a tiny bit of olive oil and seasoned them the a pinch of salt and pepper. My smoker is really easy to use. I put a few ounces of mesquite in the hot box on the bottom, set the smoker at 220 degrees F and placed the baking sheet on the middle rack and let it do its thing for about an hour.

Zucchini-ZucChoppedonBoar Zucchini-Smoker

Meanwhile, I prepared all the other ingredients. I diced a good sized sweet onion and seeded and minced a jalapeño.

Zucchini-ChoppedOnionandJalap Zucchini-GingerMinced

I also used my zester on one lemon and about a 2” piece ginger.

Lastly, I peeled, cored and diced a Honey Crisp apple. You could definitely use a Granny Smith instead.


To bring it all together, I started by sautéing the onions and jalapeños.


I added the apples, roasted zuchetta rampicante, ginger, lemon zest.

Zucchini-ZucSaute Zucchini-StockAdd

Then, I added the vegetable stock and water. Bring everything to a boil and then reduce it down to a simmer for 20 minutes.

Zucchini-Boiling Zucchini-Immersion

I use an immersion blender to create a nice cream soup. I actually do it twice. I’ll blend everything after 20 minutes and then again about 20 minutes later. It really creates a creamy and smooth soup. The last step is to add in the lemon juice and coconut milk and just let them heat through. The nice part about this step is you can do a little taste testing on the quantities. Add a little of each, see if you like it, and then add more to your taste. I like the balance I created, but you might like it a bit lighter or heavier on the coconut.


For final presentation, I do put a little soup in a cup and add more coconut milk to it. The combination is visibly lighter than the rest of the soup, so a few dots on top of each serving enhances the soup visually and adds a nice extra hit of coconut.

This was my first experiment with zuchetta rampicante. The full recipe is below. I liked the result and will probably do a little more experimenting soon.

Smoked Zuchetta Rampicante Soup with Ginger, Apple & Coconut
makes about 8 cups


1 lg Zuchetta Rampicante (Italian Zucchini), peeled, seeded and cubed
1 1/2 tbl Olive Oil
1 lg Sweet Onion, Diced
1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
1 lg Honey Crisp Apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 tsp Fresh Ginger, minced
zest of 1 Lemon
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
32oz Vegetable Stock
1 cu Water
1 tbl Fresh Lemon Juice
3 tbl Coconut Milk
Additional Coconut Milk, about 1 tablespoon, optional, for garnish
1/4 cu Chives, minced, for garnish


When I created this soup, I smoked the cubed zuchetta rampicante in my smoker at 220 degrees F for about an hour. Before putting it in the smoker, I tossed it with about 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and seasoned it with just a few pinches of salt and pepper. If you don’t have a smoker, you can roast them either on your grill or in the oven. In either case, be sure you keep the temperature low.

When the zuchetta rampicante is just about done roasting, heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot over medium low heat. Sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the jalapeño and continue to sauté for an additional 2 minutes. Add the apples, ginger, lemon zest and the roasted zuchetta rampicante. Stir to combine ingredients and sauté for an additional 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add Vegetable stock and 1 cup of water. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, blend ingredients with an immersion blender until smooth. If you don’t have an immersion blender, remove soup from the heat and blend in batches in a tabletop blender. Be very careful not to overfill the blender and cover the top with a dishtowel to avoid any spilling. Return soup to the pot and simmer for an additional 20 minutes. When I use my immersion blender, I blend the soup a second time after this second simmering. You can do the same with a tabletop blender. It just makes the soup smoother. After this second blending, add lemon juice and coconut milk and stir until smooth. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if necessary, to your taste.

For a little extra color, I mix 3 tablespoons of the soup into a small bowl with 1 tablespoon of additional coconut milk. Drop a few dots of this lighter mixture on the top of each serving and then add a bit of chopped chives. Serve hot.