When I was in Florida a few weeks ago, I came across a classic flavor combination that I hadn’t experienced much: eggplant lentil soup. I was intrigued and ordered a cup, but found the soup to be bland and basically nothing special. I then proceeded to spend the rest of the meal thinking about how to turn those flavors into an incredible soup.
The answer came this week when I recreated it in my kitchen. The first key is to roast the eggplant to lessen its natural bitterness and enhance its other flavors. This requires almost no work and takes just 25 minutes in the oven.
At the same time, simmer the lentils with onions, garlic and broth, then bring out the secret weapon: the blender or food processor! Use it to puree the whole mess into a luscious, thick soup.
And finally, enhance the natural and fairly neutral flavors of the eggplant and lentils with spices. I used curry powder, which offered the perfect level of aromatic spice.
Originally I’d planned on eating the soup on its own, and even did one day this week when I brought the leftovers for lunch. But the night I made it, I had some leftover baked cod in the refrigerator and added it to the soup for a complete meal. It was AMAZING!
Cod is a healthy, flaky, neutral-flavored fish that added just the right level of texture to the soup without changing the flavor. In the end, I had a healthy, nutritious and filling meal, with plenty of leftovers to last throughout the week.
Here’s the recipe for Eggplant Lentil Soup:
Eggplant Lentil Soup – makes 8 servings
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1/2 onion, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 pound pink or red lentils, picked over and rinsed
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 to 1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with foil. Cut the eggplant in half and rub all sides with salt and 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. Roast the eggplant in the oven skin-side up until very soft, about 25 minutes. Let sit until just cool enough to handle.
While the eggplant is roasting, pour the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil in a large pot set over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute, then stir in the lentils. Pour in the broth and increase the heat to high. Bring the broth just to a boil, then decrease the heat to low and simmer uncovered until the lentils are soft, about 25 minutes.
Use a spoon to separate the flesh of the eggplant from the skin and puree in a food processor or blender until smooth with 1/2 cup water. Pour the pureed eggplant into a pot, then puree the lentils and broth in batches and mix with the eggplant.
Stir in curry powder, pepper, lemon juice and 1 to 2 teaspoons salt to taste. Garnish with a sprinkling of chives.