This week will feature the dinner I made for my Dad’s birthday. It was a sort of Middle Eastern, Citrus/Pomegranate themed evening, except for the dessert which is a unique LAB invention. I’ll post the courses in order throughout the week, except that the cocktail we served as an aperitif will be on Friday because it seemed too strange to post a cocktail on a Monday.
So tomorrow will be the best roast chicken I’ve ever had, a sumac and thyme chicken, with a pomegranate and honey glaze, oh yeah, it’s one phenomenal chicken. Wednesday will be all the accompanying dishes we had with the chicken, which were: sumac and asparagus cous cous; fennel, apple and pomegranate salad; and cucumber and mint yogurt sauce. Thursday will be a beer soaked apple pie. Yes, you heard right, beer in apple pie. Just go with it. It may not be your Grandma’s apple pie but it is one heck of a unique dessert on beer appreciation night. Lastly on Friday, you can look forward to another ugly but delicious recipe with a pomegranate cocktail, I think it could be my new favourite cocktail!
But today I have for you a smoky eggplant and roasted garlic soup with caraway. I had the idea for an eggplant soup with caraway seeds a few weeks ago and hunted high and low for a recipe on the internet but there was nothing like the flavours I had running around my head, so I took the plunge and made it up myself. K and I think it is one of my best inventions ever.
Smoky Eggplant and Roasted Garlic with Caraway Soup
2 large eggplants (about 1kg)
1 large onion, diced
8 garlic cloves
1tsp caraway seeds
A pinch of salt
1L vegetable stock
¼ to ½ cup of pouring cream (omit for vegan, or blend a ½ cup of soaked cashews)
Wash your eggplants, remove the green top thing (if you know what it’s called, please leave a comment, I’d be interested), and stab it about 8 times so they don’t explode when roasting. If you have a gas hot plate, you could roast your eggplant over the flame until it is all charred, however I don’t so the instructions are for using an oven and griller. Roast your eggplant at about 220 degrees Celsius (about 450 Fahrenheit) for an hour, turning once while they’re cooking.
After 45 minutes, add the garlic to the oven having slice the tough bottom of garlic off so they cook for about 15 minutes. Keep your nose alert to take the garlic out if it smells roasted and sweet and they cloves are squishy.
Once the eggplants are roasted, grill them until the skin is black to give the eggplant a subtle smoky flavour. While the eggplants are grilling, start to gently sauté the onion in the oil with a pinch of salt. You want the onion to go translucent not brown to make their flavour really mild. I added a couple of tablespoons of water about 3 times while the onion was cooking to make sure it didn’t brown.
When the onions are soft, left the water cook off and give the caraway seeds a quick fry amongst the onions before the rest of the ingredients go in the pot. At this point, everything except the cream goes in the pot to simmer for 30 minutes. Cut the eggplants in half and scoop out the soft flesh being careful not to get the blackened skin in the final soup, squish the roasted garlic out of their skins into the pot and add the stock. If the soup is too thick, add some water.
Simmer for about half an hour to get all the flavours to come together.
Finally, just before serving, blend the soup (I used a hand blender, they’re so much easier) until really smooth and add the cream.
Serve immediately. We had this a second day and it reheated really well. This is such an unusual soup, all the flavours are really mild but go together so well. Each spoonful you find yourself trying to identify the flavours that are hidden amongst luscious, velvety liquid.