Thursday, August 23, 2012

Almost-Autumn Roasted Eggplant Soup

Well, folks, I've done it again.  Not only did I get the stamp of approval from my brother, but I even impressed myself tonight.  Roasted Eggplant Soup.  I don't know where I come up with this stuff...okay, that's a lie.  I got the idea at work today since the soup of the day was a roasted eggplant soup.  But it's not like that!  See, when I came in this morning I saw the soup up on our specials chalkboard and got really excited, but then I found out it was full of cream and served with a giant glob of goat cheese on top - don't get me wrong, I love goat cheese, but body isn't as big of a fan as I'd like it to be.  However, after hearing my coworkers and customers rave about the soup all day, I decided that I needed to give it a taste.  I poured a tiny sample cup with a pinch of goat cheese.  It was delicious, but a little disappointing - I thought it was too heavy and rich with all the cream and cheese.  I wanted something lighter that really highlighted the eggplant.  My mind immediately starting reeling with possibilities of how I could put my own spin on it to make it vegan and, well, better.  Thankfully I had a pile of Gravity Hill baby eggplants waiting for me at home which allowed me to put everything that was swirling around in my head down on paper down on cutting board in a pot.  It turned out even better than it was in my head.  Topped with some roasted sun gold tomatoes, it was the perfect "almost-autumn" soup - all the flavors of fall with the lightness and freshness of summer.

Note: I used baby eggplants, but you can substitute those with 3 medium eggplants or one very large one.

Almost-Autumn Roasted Eggplant Soup
15 baby eggplants
1 head of garlic (at least), cloves slices
1 cup dry white wine 
1½ cups vegetable broth
1 can coconut milk
1 tbp Thai red curry paste
1 tsp red curry powder
olive oil

+ Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
+ Slice each eggplant carefully down the middle, making sure just to create a slit and not slice all the way through the eggplant.  Stuff each slit full of garlic slices (I mean it, get as much as that garlic in there as you possibly can).
+ Place the garlic stuffed eggplants in a large baking dish, then drizzle generously with olive oil.  Bake for about a half an hour or until the eggplants have begun to shrivel.  Then, pour white wine (one cup or enough so that the eggplants are in about an half inch of liquid) into the bottom of the pan.  Bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until eggplants are soft and wine has reduced.
+ Once the eggplants are done, allow them to cool for a few minutes.  De-stem them, but leave the skins on, and place them in a large pot, along with the garlic slices and any wine and juices left in the bottom of the pan.  Using a stick blender, break down the eggplants until smooth and creamy.  Add a little of the broth to make blending easier.
+ After the eggplant is broken down, turn on medium-low heat, and add the remaining vegetable broth, mix well.  Once incorporated, slowly add the coconut milk, stirring after each addition.  Add the curry paste, curry powder, and salt to taste.  Stir well.
+ Cover and cook over low heat for about 15 minutes, or until ready to serve (though the longer you cook it, the more the flavors develop).  Garnish with some roasted tomatoes and a sprig of basil flowers to really meld summer and autumn in one bowl.

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