Grilled Eggplant Soup

An Interesting and Exotic Vegetarian Soup Recipe

This Grilled Eggplant Soup recipe for a rich and exotic-flavoured bisque incorporates the deep flavours of the Middle East into a rich and hearty soup. The flavours are reminiscent of "baba ghanoush" salad – the typical Middle Eastern dish of mashed eggplant mixed with various seasonings. Baba ghanoush salad is typically served with pita bread - I serve this bisque at home with toasted pita triangles.

1 large eggplant (aubergine)
1 whole onion chopped
1 medium potato peeled and cubed
1 onion chopped
1 parsnip peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 celery root (celeriac) peeled and cut into chunks
2 cloves garlic chopped
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
Hot chili flakes to taste (about 1/2 tsp.)
1 tsp. cumin powder
4 cups water
Olive oil for serving
Lemon wedges for serving
Pita Trainagles (see below)

Wipe the outside of the eggplant clean and place over an open flame on the gas range. Turn frequently while the outside of the eggplant blackens and the inside becomes soft and creamy-textured. Alternatively, you can slice the eggplant lengthwise and place it cut-side down on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Grill under the broiler in a preheated oven for 20 minutes. I prefer the grilled taste of the eggplant over an open flame but oven roasted is also yummy.

In a large saucepan sauté the chopped onion in 2 tbsp. of olive oil for 2 minutes and then add the garlic. Sauté for another minute or two and then add the root vegetable (potato, parsnip, celery root) Add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and simmer until the vegetables are cooked through.

In the meantime, remove the eggplant from the fire or oven. Allow to cool for a few minutes. With a soup-spoon, carefully remove the soft pulp from the blackened outer skin and place in the food processor bowl. Add the all the cooked vegetables to the food processor and blend until smooth and creamy.

Return the processed vegetables to the saucepan and add the remaining two cups water, salt, pepper, chili flakes and cumin powder. Simmer for a few minutes more so that all the flavours will merge.

Serve the Grilled Eggplant Soup hot with a drizzle of olive oil and a lemon wedge with each serving. The olive oil and lemon are essential elements of the authentic Middle East flavours of this soup.

Toasted Pita Triangles – slice pita into eight small triangles. Drizzle with a little olive oil and place under the broiler for a few minutes so they become toasted and crispy.

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Did you know that…
Soups are easy to make and are terrific first courses for dieters. Vegetable-based broths fill you up without being high in calories or fat.

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Miso-fermented soybean paste-adds flavour to stocks, especially vegetarian broths. Add a tablespoon or so per quart of water, or to taste. Marmite can also add great flavour.

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Homemade vegetable broths can be kept in the freezer in individual serving sized portions to be used as a base for a quick meal.

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Cooking spray is a great way to cut back on calories without harming the flavour. If vegetables start to stick to the pan, add a tablespoon or so of water, wine or broth to keep them from burning.

Did you know that…
If you heat your spices for a minute or so over medium heat before adding them to your recipe it will enhance the flavour. Add dried herbs at the beginning of the cooking time, and fresh herbs right before serving.

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