I was kind of hoping that the heaps and piles of tomatoes, eggplant and basil in the garden would just like… go away on their own or something. But there they are, hanging on the vines, getting cold and even a bit sad-looking. I’m the only eggplant enthusiast in the house so I’m feeling even more guilt about the whole not-using-them-up-thing because they were clearly intended for my consumption. But there’s a whole 10 plants-worth of abundant japanese eggplant out there! Guh. Anyway.
So I came up with this little puree soup. I love super garlicky baba ghanoush. It’s so flavourful and easy to make at home. This soup is no different. You kind of just roast everything off, combine the veg with some liquid and let it rip in the blender/food processor. I made some tomato water and a little non-dairy buttermilk concoction for the liquid portion. The tomato water isn’t necessary (you could use vegetable stock or water), but it tastes so awesome. If you plan ahead and have cheesecloth, it’s a breeze. Just grind the tomatoes up with the implement of your choosing, pour it into some layered cheesecloth and hang overnight in the fridge over a pitcher. Pretty lax preparation for something so magnificent and pure tasting. Plus if someone asks you what that red stuff in the cheesecloth bundle is in the fridge, you can say “Oh nothing. Just some tomato water.” Very gangster.
So the end result is like a steamy bowl of summer ripeness: it’s tangy, robust, warming and a touch sweet. The basil on top makes it fresh, its lively green colour nodding to the end of summer days. Some chopped olives on top would be nice too. I had some garlicky cashew cream made up for a batch of kale chips so I dabbed a little bit on top to make it pretty. A little pita for dipping would totally drive the theme home.
tangy baba ghanoush soup
serves: makes 2 quarts
special equipment: a blender or food processor
notes: As mentioned above, you can use vegetable stock or water instead of the tomato water. You could also grill the vegetables if you have access to a barbecue. They might be a get drier though, so more liquid would be necessary.
8-10 japanese eggplants (or 3-4 regular)
1 large cooking onion, large dice
1 tbsp grape seed oil
1 tsp ground cumin
4 cloves of garlic, peel on
4 cups tomato water (I followed this technique)
3/4 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
1 tsp white wine vinegar
3 tbsp tahini
juice from half a lemon
salt and pepper
1 sprig of basil, rough chop + extra for garnish
Roast the eggplant and onions: cut eggplants down the centre lengthwise. Make crosshatching cuts into the flesh and sprinkle with salt. Lay out on a large parchment lined sheet for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. After 20 minutes, squeeze out excess water from eggplant. Place them cut side down on the sheet. Put into the oven and roast until soft and collapsed looking, about 30 minutes.
For onions: toss with oil and cumin and place on parchment lined sheet with garlic cloves. Roast until onions are soft and browned and garlic is mushy, about 20 minutes.
Combine nondairy milk with white wine vinegar and allow to curdle for at least 10 minutes.
Scrape flesh out of eggplants into a bowl and set aside. Remove papery skins from garlic and discard.
Blend eggplant flesh, onions and garlic with the tomato water (or stock), buttermilk, lemon juice, tahini, basil, salt and pepper. You may have to do this in a couple of batches.
Pour blended soup into a pot and bring to a boil. Serve hot with small basil leaves as garnish.