I have gotten pretty handy at burning peppers and removing the skin and seeds to create a delicious roasted pepper, but I had never tried the method with an eggplant. I wouldn't have thought of it at all if I hadn't, once again, been flipping through my "Jerusalem" cookbook. The reason for the flipping: because I had a bumper crop of eggplants plus extras in my CSA. I thought "Jerusalem" would have some great eggplant-centric ideas, and they did - no less than nine different recipes. But, I thought this one sounded like fun - like the kind of recipe that might set off a fire alarm. For some reason, that appealed to me on a sunny afternoon in August. I don't know why. Maybe too much coffee.
Anyway, I made this with the vents blasting and no alarms went off. It was a lot of fun and the soup was delicious. You can add Israeli couscous to this, but I wanted to keep it simple and gluten free. Feel free to add it if you want some extra texture.
To burn the eggplant, do the following:
Place on a burner
Until the skin starts to look like this
Keep turning it until every side looks blackened...use your teapot for support if necessary:
Once they are fully blackened (15-20 minutes for large eggplants, 7-10 for small ones), remove to a bowl and allow them to cool until you can comfortably handle them. Then, cut open down the middle and scoop out the softened flesh. Discard the skin.
Place in a colander and allow excess water to drain for up to an hour.
THEN, you can make the soup as follows:
- 10 baby eggplants or 3 large eggplants (a mixture of both is fine), about 2 1/2 pounds total
- Oil, for frying
- 1 onion, sliced
- 1 T. cumin seeds, freshly ground
- 1 1/2 tsp. tomato paste
- 2 large tomatoes, diced
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable for chicken stock
- 1 2/3 cups water
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 1/2 tsp. sugar
- 2 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 T. shredded basil
- Salt and pepper
- Start by burning all but 1 of the large eggplants or 2 of the small eggplants. Cut the remaining eggplant(s) into small dice. Heat oil in large saucepan. When hot, add diced eggplant, fry for 10 to 15 minutes, until colored all over. Add more oil if you run out of some in the pan. Remove the eggplant and place in a colander to drain and sprinkle with salt.
- Makes sure there is about 1 T. of oil left in the pan, then add the cumin and onion and sauté until onion softened, about 7 minutes. Stir often. Then, add the tomato paste, stir for 1 minute, then add tomatoes, stock, water, garlic, sugar, lemon juice, 1 1/2 tsp. salt, and some black pepper. Simmer gently for 15 minutes.
- Transfer burnt eggplant insides to a blender and add the simmered soup. Blitz until it is smooth. Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary. Top with fried eggplant and extra diced basil when serving.