Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Roasted Eggplant and Garlic Soup

The versatile eggplant is delicious chopped or stuffed, but is also one of my favorite vegetables (well, fruits, technically) to puree. The eggplant in this recipe roasts first, for deep flavor, before being pureed into this garlicky soup. Use a globe or Italian eggplant for best results.

  • 1 (1-pound) eggplant
  • Cooking spray
  • 10 unpeeled garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 and 3/4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons plain non-dairy yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh cilantro
1. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise, and place the halves, cut sides down, in a baking pan coated with cooking spray.  Add the garlic cloves to the pan.  Bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes - the eggplant should be tender.

2. Let cool, then scrape the pulp from the eggplant skins; discard the skins. Squeeze the garlic cloves to extract the pulp, and discard the skins. Set aside.

3. Meanwhile, combine the coriander and cumin seeds in a spice grinder and process until finely ground. 

4. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the spice mixture, onion, and black pepper; cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the flour; cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add the water and vegetable broth, scraping the pan to loosen the browned bits that have accumulated during cooking.  Remove from the burner and let cool for 5 minutes.

5. Combine the broth mixture in a blender with the eggplant pulp and garlic pulp.  Process until smooth.  Return the pureed soup to the pan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.  Cook for a final 3 minutes, stirring frequently, then stir in the balsamic vinegar.

6. Ladle 1 and 1/2 cups soup into each of 2 bowls.  Top each serving with 1 tablespoon yogurt and 1 teaspoon cilantro.

Note: this soup is also delicious - if not better - chilled, so consider making it ahead.  It will keep refrigerated for up to 3 days.  I recommend serving this elegant little bowlful with French bread rolls.

Nutrition Info:
2 servings (1 and 1/2 cups soup, 1 tablespoon yogurt, 1 teaspoon cilantro), Calories 214 

Tasting Notes:
This soup would not be amiss on a restaurant menu, between the creamy, rich taste, warm spice from the coriander and cumin, and pretty swirl of yogurt on top. I would be eager to try it without the balsamic vinegar next time; it gave the soup an acidic bite, and took away from the eggplant and roasted garlic.  Without the balsamic, I would rate this soup even higher.


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