Lately, the bay area has been receiving a lot of much needed rain. And accompanying it have been cold, gusty winds – the types that chill you to your bone if you’re outside long enough (bare in mind that I am a hearty, prairie girl hailing from Western Canada – I know what cold is).
On one of such days earlier this week, I realized that I had a poor eggplant kicking around on our kitchen counter, all by its lonesome self. As I mulled over what I could possibly do with it, I began to realize that eggplant unfairly gets a bad rap. Baba (my father in law) is quite resolute that eggplant can’t be used in many dishes – it just doesn’t taste good. He narrowed its use to two dishes: bagharay baingan (a rich Hyderabadi eggplant curry typically served as a side to Hyderabadi biryani) or parmigiana (Italian eggplant Parmesan). It breaks my heart to think that this wholesome berry is viewed as being limited in its capacity to serve as a main ingredient. I might be going against popular opinion here, but I think eggplant is pretty darn delicious – especially when roasted alongside red peppers, tomatoes, and garlic and then blitzed together as is done in this soup!
Roasting the ingredients deepens their flavours, which results in a soup that is evocative in taste to Mediterranean cuisine. I served this soup in homemade, whole wheat bread bowls and garnished it with a light sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan cheese and ribbons of fresh, green basil.
So, on a cold day where there is an endless stretch of gloomy clouds in the sky and no sunshine in sight, why not warm up to the weather with this delightful soup and let eggplant have its moment to shine?
- 1 medium sized eggplant, cut lengthwise
- 1 medium sized roma tomato
- 1 red bell pepper
- 6 whole cloves garlic
- olive oil (as needed)
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- salt, to taste
- 1 1/2 cups of stock (vegetable or chicken)
- 1 1/2 cups of water
- 2 T tahini (sesame seed paste)
- juice of half a small lemon
- crumbled feta cheese, for garnish (I used parmesan)
- basil, for garnish
- Preheat your oven to 375 F.
- Place your eggplant, red pepper, tomato and garlic in a glass baking dish (or a metal baking pan lined with foil). Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Place baking tray in the oven and roast for approximately 30 - 45 minutes.
- In a medium sized stock pot or dutch oven, saute onions in 2 T of extra virgin olive oil until just translucent.
- Stir in minced garlic. Once fragrant, stir in coriander and cumin powders.
- Once the spices have started to release their aromas, add in roasted eggplant, tomato, red pepper, and garlic. Cook this for about two minutes.
- Stir in water and stock. Bring to a boil.
- Once the soup has come to a boil, remove from heat. Working in small batches, blend the soup in a blender until a desired consistency has been reached.
- Place back into pot and tahini. Be sure to mix well, and bring back to a boil.
- Allow the soup to boil for about 5 or so minutes. Once it has heated through, squeeze in the lemon juice and remove from heat.
- Garnish with fresh basil and crumbled feta cheese. I didn't have any feta on hand, so I sprinkled some parmesan over top instead. Enjoy!