Vegetable Marrow Soup is a classic British soup recipe made with marrows, mixed vegetables, and simple spices. Adapted from Good Things in England, a cookbook published in 1932. Make it as written, or customize to your heart’s content. This easy blended soup is also vegan and vegetarian-friendly.
What is Marrow?
Vegetable Marrows are a type of squash. Specifically, they’re a large overgrown zucchini. Zucchinis (or courgettes if you’re British) are the younger, immature version of the same plant. If you leave zucchinis on the vine instead of harvesting them at their usual size, they’ll grow bigger and bigger. Eventually, they’ll turn into marrows, and then into gourds. That’s why zucchini is also called baby marrow.
I first learned about vegetable marrows from reading Agatha Christie novels as a kid. Her famous detective, Hercule Poirot, dreams of retiring to the countryside to grow marrows. Many non-UK readers, like me, wondered WTF are vegetable marrows? They’re common enough in Britain, but virtually unknown outside of the UK.
I am, I may say so without undue modesty, at the apex of my career. Very shortly I intend to retire —to live in the country, to travel occasionally to see the world—also, it may be, to cultivate my garden—with particular attention to improving the strain of vegetable marrows. Magnificent vegetables—but they lack flavour.Agatha Christie, The Labours of Hercules
Why Marrows Grow So Big
Vegetable marrows have a bad rep because compared to zucchini, they’re rather insipid. (And that’s saying something, since zucchini themselves aren’t exactly the most exciting vegetables, are they?)
But why is that?
Back in Poirot’s day, vegetable “show growing” was all the rage! Gardeners would compete to grow the biggest marrow. One dirty trick for growing prizeworthy marrows was to pump them full of water. Which is why they became so notorious for being huge and flavourless and watery.
“It’s not a man’s working hours that are important—it’s his leisure hours… Take yourself now, you’re getting on, you’ll be wanting to get out of things, to take things easy—what are you going to do then with your leisure hours?”
Poirot was ready with his reply. “I am going to attend—seriously—to the cultivation of vegetable marrows.”
Dr. Burton was taken aback. “Vegetable marrows? What d’yer mean? Those great swollen green things that taste of water?”
“Ah,” Poirot spoke enthusiastically. “But that is the whole point of it. They need not taste of water.”Agatha Christie, The Labours of Hercules
Good Things in England
Since vegetable marrows lack flavour on their own, they’re popular in soup recipes. They can be blended with other flavourful ingredients for a delicious recipe.
This vegetable marrow soup recipe is adapted from a 1932 collection called Good Things in England: A Practical Cookery Book for Everyday Use, Containing Traditional and Regional Recipes Suited to Modern Tastes. Here’s a copy of that original recipe:
Ingredients + Substitutions
A few important notes on some of the ingredients used in this Vegetable Marrow Soup recipe:
Vegetable Marrow: A type of large summer squash. You may be able to find them at farmer’s markets. If you don’t have vegetable marrow, you can use zucchini which makes a perfect substitute.
Mirepoix: What is mirepoix? A fancy French word for carrot, celery, and onion, diced small. Super classic flavour combo, especially for soups and stews. It forms the base of many recipes, not just French ones!
Butter: Important for sautéing the mirepoix and bringing out the flavour of the aromatics. I like to use Earth Balance.
Flour: We combine the flour with the butter to make a roux, which thickens up the soup.
Vegetable Stock or Water: Homemade vegetable stock is great for making tasty soup. But my favourite quick option is Better Than Bouillon mixed with water. You just can’t beat the convenience and it tastes nearly as good as homemade broth.
Vegan Cream: Make this marrow soup with coconut milk. Or, if you’re allergic to coconut, go with a vegan cooking cream like Belsoy.
For a full list of ingredients and quantities, refer to the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Add some potatoes, rutabaga or turnip or celeriac root to give the soup more body and make it a filling meal.
- Add curry powder or Berbere Seasoning to spice it up with warm, alluring flavours.
- Stir in some nutritional yeast to add a comforting cheesy flavour.
Step 1: Chop the vegetables. Melt butter in a stockpot.
Step 2: Sauté the onion, celery, carrot until shiny and aromatic.
Step 3: Sprinkle in the flour. Stir it around to coat all the vegetables evenly.
Step 4: Add vegetable stock and vegetable marrow, plus salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil.
Step 5: Once bubbling, turn down the heat and gently simmer until marrows are soft.
Step 6: Blend the soup into a smooth purée. Stir in cream before serving.
Meal Prep & Storage Tips
Fridge: Keep leftover vegetable marrow soup refrigerated. You can portion it out into meal prep containers or store it right in the stockpot you cooked it in.
Freezer: Freeze vegetable marrow soup in individual portions in airtight containers. It’s best eaten within three months.
Reheating: You can reheat this soup on the stove or in the microwave. I like to reheat it slowly in a saucepan on the stove on low heat. You might want to add a bit of water because the soup thickens a bit when it cools.
If you’re boiling small cubes of marrow for a soup or stew, it will take at least 10 minutes for them to become tender, but I prefer to cook them for at least 20 minutes. Check for doneness by inserting a fork or knife into a piece to ensure it’s easily pierced.
Vegetable marrow does become very soft when cooked in soup, but it won’t dissolve altogether. It’s a bit like winter melon, but sturdier—it becomes super tender and almost melts into the soup, but won’t break down completely.
Marrow is usually stewed or blended into soups because it doesn’t have much flavour or texture on its own. Large marrows can also be hollowed out, then stuffed and baked. Additionally, it can be grated into fritters or pancakes, just like zucchini.
If you plan to keep marrow for a while, keep it whole and unsliced. When kept whole in a cool, dark place, a marrow can last for several months. Once cut, refrigerate it for up to a week.
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Vegetable Marrow Soup
Use Imperial/Metric buttons below to toggle between volume vs weight measurements. I recommend weighing out your ingredients for best results.
- Immersion blender or full stand blender
- 1 lb vegetable marrow, chopped see Note 1
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 2 ribs celery, roughly chopped
- 1 carrot, roughly chopped
- 4 tbsp butter of your choice = half a stick; I like Earth Balance
- 3 tbsp flour
- 3 cups vegetable stock or water
- Salt and pepper to taste; see Note 2
- ½ cup vegan cream or canned coconut milk *optional
- Melt butter in a stockpot on medium-high heat. Sauté the onion, celery, carrot until aromatic.
- Sprinkle in the flour and stir it around to coat all the vegetables evenly.
- Pour in the vegetable stock and add the chopped vegetable marrow. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and bring to a boil.
- Once bubbling, turn the heat down to medium-low and gently simmer for 25 minutes.
- Blend the soup into a smooth purée. Stir in cream before serving.
- Vegetable Marrow: Can substitute with zucchini or spaghetti squash.
- Salt & Pepper: I used 1 tsp salt (6g) and 1/2 tsp ground black pepper together with low-sodium vegetable stock. If your vegetable stock has lots of salt, or if using a concentrated bouillon like Better than Bouillon, reduce the salt.