Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Curried Spinach Soup with Eggplant Cream

I had been too long without soup and my soul needed the particular warming one receives from consuming a bowl of nourishing sustenance created from humble and healthy ingredients. Plus I had been eating like I had to gain weight not lose it, so soup I craved.

Below is a recipe for Curried Spinach Soup served with Eggplant Cream. The recipes for both just kind of popped in my head and I don't think it was a coincidence that I was able to use my new immersion blender for both recipes. (I got a Cusinart 200 watt model and boy can that baby puree!)

The ingredients were pretty much what I had in hand in the pantry, fridge and freezer. The peanut butter adds a certain creaminess to the soup, but not a distinctive peanut flavor. I found I needed to use a lot of curry powder to pump up the spiciness. Feel free to use more or less to your taste.

The soup is pleasantly herbal with an earthy warmth. The eggplant cream adds a whole additional layer of flavor, smoothing out the spinach's grass notes and adding the deep intriguing smoky bite of the eggplant to the soup. I hope you'll try it with the soup. If you decide to skip it, try plopping a little plain yogurt or sour cream on top your soup bowl. I served my soup with some Indian flatbreads on the side.

Curried Spinach Soup with Eggplant Cream

For the Soup:

Olive oil or spray
1 small red onion or about half large, roughly diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
2-3 tsp curry powder
Dash of cinnamon
2-3 carrots cut, roughly diced
6 or more cups of vegetable stock or water
4 tbs peanut butter
16 oz chopped frozen spinach
12 oz chopped frozen spinach
15 oz can of diced tomatoes, drained
15 oz can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Hot sauce
One recipe Eggplant Cream (see below)

Spray the bottom of a large pot with the olive oil spray or use a tablespoon of olive oil and coat the bottom of the pot. Heat. Add onion and sauté until beginning to soften. Add garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes. Sauté until aromas are released. Add curry powder and cinnamon and stir until incorporated. Add carrots. Sauté until onions are golden and garlic has started to brown. Add 6 cups of stock or water. Stir up any bits stuck to bottom of the pot. Cook over medium heat until simmering. Add frozen spinach; cook stirring to break up, until defrosted. Add peanut butter. Cook, stirring occasionally until incorporated.

Using an immersion blender, puree soup to desired consistency. (Or cool, puree in batches in blender, return to pot and reheat.) Add the additional frozen spinach. Cook until defrosted. Add additional stock or water if soup is too thick. Add tomatoes and chickpeas and cook until heated through. Taste for seasoning and add salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste.

To serve, swirl in 1 Tbs of Eggplant Cream in each bowl.

Makes 6-8 servings

Eggplant Cream

1 eggplant (thin Italian, Chinese or Japanese preferred, but a small globe eggplant will also work, see note below.)
Crème fraiche, sour cream, Greek yogurt, plain yogurt oe non-dairy yogurt, drained
1 Tbs fresh lemon or lime juice

Place whole, unpeeled eggplant over an open gas flame, under a broiler or on a grill. Using tongs, turn frequently as skin blisters and the flesh begins to soften. When the flesh is completely soft, remove from heat and set aside. When cool enough to handle, peel away as much of the eggplant skin as you can. Mash eggplant flesh and puree with an equal amount of crème fraiche, sour cream of yogurt. (If using regular, plain yogurt, drain it first in a colander for a few hours before using.) Add lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. Stir well and serve with soup.

Note: If using a globe eggplant (the type usually available in stores), look for as small a one as you can find. Cook the eggplant whole, but only use half of the cooked flesh in the eggplant cream. Reserve the rest for another use. (Try mixing it with a little hummus for a nice dip.)

Watch this space -- photo to come


Deborah Dowd said...

This sounds really unique and delicious. I am definitely putting this on the list for an upcoming tapas night. Your are a very inventive and adventurous cook!

FJKramer said...

Thanks for your kind words. Let me know how it turns out and watch for my upcoming post on Moorish inspired veg paella.

Loved your blog Play With Food, http://play-with-food.blogspot.com/
nice combo of attitude and recipes, just my kind of blog!


Ivan Schmetterling said...

I must say, I was a bit frightened by the ingredient list...but it did fit what remained from my CSA box very well. What to do with egg plant and spinach? And peanut butter? Oy!

But this is an excellent soup with the eggplant cream a wonderful accompaniment. Thanks for sharing!