I have multiple recipes for soup that include zucchini (courgette) that are all at least 30-40 years old, and all of them seem to have you add the zucchini late in the cooking time, as if the zucchini needs to be treated gently. But my experience is that zucchini needs to be cooked with no uncertain vigor, and I will generally add it earlier/cook it longer.

Question is: are “modern” US supermarket zucchini substantially different from those of the past, perhaps in the same way that science has given us hard, flavorless supermarket tomatoes — or do I just prefer softer zucchini than these cookbook authors?

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    The supermarket zucchini (summer squash) I'm used to don't need to be cooked particularly aggressively. I've never had zucchini in soup, but if I were to add chunks to a soup my instinct would be to add them at the very end of the process within minutes of it being finished. I'm curious if perhaps what you're calling zucchini is not what I call zucchini. Nov 14 at 1:40
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    I remember as a child travelling to Blackpool [N. UK, 60s/70s] & being able to smell the tomatoes growing in the nearby fields from inside the car. My mum would always buy some to bring home. Now you can barely smell them if you put your nose in the box :\
    – Tetsujin
    Nov 14 at 9:52

2 Answers 2


To answer the question directly: no, there is no difference in the zucchini. I grew up with the zucchini in my grandmothers' gardens, and nowadays, I'm eating supermarket zucchini - this is in Europe, but I don't think the big growers are selling something radically different in the US.

To my taste, all the zucchinis I've ever had, supermarket or homegrown, are very tender and should be heated minimally. Especially in something like a soup, I'd also add them very late, maybe even after I've turned off the heat.

It seems that you have a personal preference for long-cooked zucchini. This has nothing to do with the recipe, its age, or with the zucchini supply. The recipes are the same, the zucchinis are the same, your taste simply differs.

  • Makes sense to me, thanks! Nov 14 at 19:23
  • Perhaps to add, if you cook zucchini too long in something like a soup, it will tend to fall apart and get mushy. It won't be like cooking zucchini on a gridle or grill, if that's what OP is after.
    – SnakeDoc
    Nov 16 at 0:19
  • @SnakeDoc yes, true about the gill. The OP made the question about zucchini in a soup.
    – rumtscho
    Nov 16 at 8:57
  • @rumtscho it'll become mushy in soup also if cooked too long, that was the point.
    – SnakeDoc
    Nov 16 at 18:44

Cooking zucchini for a long time removes most of its water, greatly reducing its volume and turning it into a "pulp".

If that's the effect you want to achieve, then you indeed add it early in the cooking process (I do it for example when making a zucchini and salmon pie, or a soup).

If you instead want to preserve its texture and leave some crunchiness, you add it later in the recipe (extreme example: diced raw zucchini in salads)

It's possible that modern zucchini has a higher amount of water (selected to make it grow bigger and faster) than the zucchini of the past, therefore requiring more time to take that water away when needed.

  • Do you suppose the recipes I’m looking at want you to end up with slightly crunchy zucchini in a soup ( like a minestrone?) Seems wrong to me, but maybe that’s just my tastes. Nov 14 at 14:45
  • Zucchini only needs to be cooked for around 5 minutes to soften it. If it takes you more than 5 minutes, what you're cooking isn't zucchini.
    – FuzzyChef
    Nov 15 at 20:38

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