Aubergine is an incredibly under-rated vegetable. Ridiculously so, in my opinion! I have mentioned before how it took time for me to love it beyond its use one or two well known dishes, but now I proudly call it one of my favourite vegetables.
This is a suprisingly versatile vegetable once you develop a positive relationship with it, but I had not yet used it in soup. Why not?! Exactly. Why not? No better time than the present to try, right?
A thick and rich soup, deep in flavour, this aubergine based soup is sure to convert a few people to the purple side. Give it a try because it's nothing like what you'd expect! The subtle smoked flavour combined with juicy acidic tomatoes and tangy pomegranate molasses is a combination to make my mouth water simply thinking about it.
First and foremost, quantity is really just a suggestion with this recipe. If you have a little less aubergine/eggplant, that's okay too. No yogurt? It doesn't have to have that. The pomegranate molasses, however, is a worthwhile purchase; you will find yourself using it frequently after you try it once!
Fresh tomatoes are of course an option, but in the off season I opt for something in a tin. Fresh tomatoes which aren't local, full of in-season juicy goodness, well they're just crap. Most stuff in the UK right now is imported from Holland and can be likened to a crusty sponge with a mild tomato flavour. If, however, you find yourself with some tomato gems I'll bet roasting them before adding to the soup would create a divine result...
If you have a flame thrower (okay, a gas stove or Crème Brûlée torch) you can roast your aubergine by charring them with flame. Alternatively they can be charred under a hot grill (for a really smoky flavour). David Lebovitz uses a combination of methods in his baba ganoush recipe, one which sounds like it would provide a great taste. If the oven is your only method and the end result isn't smoky enough, consider adding a few drops of liquid smoke to the soup during the blending process.
Roasted Aubergine and Tomato Soup
- Preheat your oven to 240-250 C (or 475 F).
- Prick the aubergines in a few different spots and roast for around 45 minutes to an hour until the vegetables are very soft and the skins are wrinkled. When finished remove from the oven and leave to cool.
- While your aubergines are in the oven, you can make a quick and tasty yoghurt sauce with which to add an extra tang and a garnish to your final product. To do this I use my trusty pestle and mortar to pound the lemon juice, garlic, tahini, yoghurt, and some salt together.
- In a large saucepan add some olive oil and fry the onion for 5-10 minutes on medium heat or until just browing. Add the garlic and fry a further minute before tossing in the salt and spices.
- After 30 seconds or so (just enough time for your kitchen to smell truly awesome), add the tomato and turn the heat down a few notches. Cover and leave to simmer while you get down with the aubergine
- When the roasted aubergines are cool enough to handle you can simply peel away the skins. Do this and chop the flesh into small pieces before stirring into the simmering tomato. Add the pomegranate molasses and some extra water (at least a cup if you want a fairly runny soup, but I like mine thick so I added a bit less) and salt to taste.
- Purée your soup in a blender until very smooth and creamy looking and serve with a swirl of the yoghurt sauce. Garnish with parsley for an extra pretty touch!