A few days ago, I heard a report on the radio that defied what every parent believes on how to get kids to eat their veggies. Research shows that if given dessert first, small children will learn to love their veggies! The association with something sweet is what makes the vegetable afterward more enticing. Despite the evidence, I was willing to reject this idea immediately, until I thought about how much better vegetables taste when they are roasted to a golden brown. This process, the caramelization of the natural sugars in eggplant or peppers or garlic, elevates even the tartest onion to a sweet surprise. This Elegant Eggplant Soup, with the smoky flavoring of roasted Indian spices, has just the right balance of sweet and sour. A mildly spicy soup, you can adjust the amount of heat by how much garam masala you add to the mix. Don't forget to garnish it with fresh yogurt and cilantro leaves just before serving. This soup will make you want to eat your veggies!
ELEGANT EGGPLANT SOUP
Yield: 8 Servings
Ingredients and Equipment:
- 2 or 3 large cookie sheets with raised sides, lined with parchment paper
- 4 large garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 serrano peppers, rinsed and sliced, seeds removed
- 1 large red onion, peeled and cut into thick slices
- 1 large green pepper, rinsed, sliced and seeds removed
- 4 small eggplants, preferably Asian, trimmed, rinsed and sliced into thick circles
- 1 large chunk fresh ginger
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 teaspoons garam masala
- 6 cups stock, chicken, beef or vegetable (plus more as needed)
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- plain yogurt, for serving
- handful fresh cilantro leaves, rinsed, for serving
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Place the garlic cloves, slice serrano peppers, red onion slices, sliced green pepper and eggplant slices on the parchment lined cookie sheets. Drizzle the vegetables with the olive oil and toss. Sprinkle the garam masala on the vegetables and toss again.
- Place the vegetables in the preheated oven. Roast until the vegetables are deeply browned and caramelized, about 15 minutes.
- Remove the vegetables from the oven, allow to cool slightly, and carefully transfer them to a large soup pot. Add the chunk of fresh ginger, cover the vegetables with the stock, and bring it to a boil. Stir everything together. Lower the temperature to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are very soft, about 25 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- Remove the pot from the heated stove. Using tongs or a long spoon, remove the fresh ginger. If you have an immersion blender, purée the soup right in the pot. If you have a food processor or blender, strain the vegetables from the liquid, reserving the broth. Purée the vegetables in batches, depending on the size of your food processor or blender. Return everything to the soup pot. If the soup is too thick at this point, add a bit more stock. Taste. Add salt and black pepper, as needed.
- Reheat the soup all the way through just before serving.
- Garnish with yogurt and fresh cilantro leaves.