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Many home cooks believe that any vegetable can become the foundation for soup. Root vegetables such as potatoes and carrots can easily become a hearty soup to serve on a wintry afternoon, and more delicate vegetables such as sugar snap peas, summer squash and tomatoes are perfect together for a lighter luncheon or summer soup. Using eggplant for main-course dishes is relatively commonplace, but many cooks might not realize that eggplant soup is an equally delicious option. This soup can be prepared Mediterranean-style, curried, roasted or in another way.
Part of eggplant soup’s charm is its versatility. It can be served as a delicate chilled soup on a summer’s day, or combined with hefty veggies for a midwinter’s stew. Any type of eggplant will suffice, as well. The fat-bottomed eggplants commonly seen in grocery stores are a fine choice, as are long and slender Japanese eggplants or small, round Indian ones. As it does in casseroles and side dishes, eggplant makes a willing and very mild foundation upon which other, more intense flavors can be added.
Richly flavored Mediterranean style eggplant soup typically pairs roughly diced eggplant with stewed tomatoes as the base. Many cooks include onion and garlic for flavor, as well as herbs such as rosemary, oregano or thyme. A richly flavored olive oil also can be added. Vegetarian versions of eggplant soup are delicious on their own or can be cooked down and served atop orzo, barley or other grains. Many cooks serve this soup with Greek yogurt for diners to stir in at the dinner table.
A very different taste is created in curried eggplant soups. Some curried soups call for diced stewed tomatoes, and others stick with the eggplant as a base. Fruit and vegetables are combined in this type of soup, including chopped apple, peaches or pears as well as onions, garlic and ginger. To make a creamy soup, many cooks opt to use milk, cream or a nondairy substitute such as almond milk or soy milk in the base instead of water. For convenience, most cooks use a favorite curry powder mix, or an Indian or Pakistani jarred curry.
A simple, delicious soup begins with oven-roasted eggplant, onion and garlic that has been cooked to the point that the flesh is soft and its natural sweetness has been brought to the fore. This particular soup is simple, needing nothing but chicken broth with or instead of cream and a little olive or canola oil. After the ingredients have been warmed together in a saucepan, they are blended in a blender. A cook can make this eggplant soup perfect by adding a little crumbled feta cheese and a few roasted pine nuts.
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