Coming home last August from a trip to the Adirondacks, I was tempted by a recipe I saw in the New York Times food section. Smoky eggplant soup. After living on a (delicious) diet of barbecued meat and corn for a week, a nice vegetable soup sounded appealing. I usually shy away from eggplant, since the few times I have cooked it, it was either too oily, too gooey, too bitter, too salty or too raw. But this recipe was wonderful. The result was velvety, smoky, slightly tangy from the lemon, and spicy. And quick and easy to make.
2 lbs small or thin firm eggplant, any variety
2 cups sliced white or yellow onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
Salt and pepper
½ teaspoon chipotle chile pepper powder (or to taste)
Place the eggplants on a baking sheet under the oven grill, or on a barbecue, and wait for the skin to burn, then turn them over. You may want to set your timer, just so the aubergine skin doesn’t actually catch on fire. Or—like me—you can go by your smoke alarms, which should all go off just about when the blackened eggplant needs to be turned or removed.
The skin of the eggplants should now be charred, and the flesh soft. Let them cool off, and remove the skin. This is an easy but very juicy process. Chop the flesh up roughly.
In a heavy saucepan or soup pot, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper, and soften for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, chipotle chile pepper, eggplant and broth and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
Purée the soup. Add 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, or more according to taste.
Serve in bowls, sprinkled with lemon zest and drizzled with olive oil, and add chopped parsley (or za’atar if you can ever find it).
We tried this hot and cold, both were delicious!
Now I want to try an Italian dessert I heard about on the radio, which was described as “an eggplant lasagna with sweetened ricotta cheese.” I still have to find the recipe.
(Slightly modified recipe from the City Kitchen section, by David Tanis. The New York Times, Wednesday, August 14, 2013.)
My daughter Cécile Vidican was born and raised in France. She now lives on the East coast of the United States. She is a Professor of French language and an illustrator. Have a look at some of her work.