I’ve been stewing over a resolution for this year. I realize I’m a little late but figure it’s better to ponder now and choose the right one, than to have already had a resolution and broken it in January. In 2015, I want to focus on something I am calling “minimalism”. I want to declutter my life, clear out the unnecessary, focus on one to two priorities at a time and stop worrying over things I cannot change or do not have time to do. I think it’s a great resolution. One that is easily applied to my work life, home life and even this little blog.
I had an unexpected day off work today and in the spirit of my new resolution I set just three simple goals for myself. Sometimes the to-do list is long and I end up getting less done, or at least less of what I really wanted to get done, in a given day. I finished clearing out my closet (a project started last weekend that had been left unfinished), did a surface level cleaning of the house, and now posting this recipe will be my final task. My closet purging yielded over two garbage bags of clothing and accessories destined for either the trash or salvation army. I feel lighter already.
When my life (or closet) is organized and simplified I feel more in control of my diet and cooking. That may seem like a strange connection but it’s true for me. How can I really expect to feel creative and find time to cook healthy meals when the rest of my life feels like chaos? Hopefully, I can stay motivated to simplify and declutter other areas of my life and home this year. Tupperware drawer, I’m looking at you right now.
This soup isn’t overly simple in time or ingredients but I’m always looking for vegetarian soups that leave me satisfied and full and this fits the bill. The pureed butternut squash and sweet potato soups can leave me craving “real” food and vegetarian chili, while I love it, can get old. Many of the ingredients are pantry items and in the time the eggplant roasts everything else can easily be prepped while you sip on wine. The curry flavors are mild, there is little to no spiciness, and the coconut flavor is light handed. Yet it is not bland, just simple. I find that with many vegetarian soups, the lighter the hand of spices and other flavors the better. You can taste the smokiness of the roasted eggplant mixed with the sweetness of the caramelized onion and carrots. Absolutely delicious with a glass of red wine on a cold January night and the leftovers are superb.
Curried Eggplant Soup
2 medium sized eggplants
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic (~1 tablespoon), minced
1 “thumb” of ginger (~2 tablespoons), peeled and grated
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1.5 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
6 cups broth/water
2 14 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3-4 carrots, chopped into 1″ cubes
1-2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt (see Note)
1 13 oz can full fat coconut milk
chopped cilantro for garnish
Special Equipment Needed:None
Preheat the oven to 400 deg F. Prick the eggplant all over with a fork or the tip of a pairing knife (this will allow steam to escape in the oven) and place on a small sheet pan. Roast 45 minutes, rotating once halfway through the cook time, until soft and shriveled.
Meanwhile heat oil over medium-high heat in a large pot or dutch oven. Add the onion and allow it to sizzle for a minute or two. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until beginning to brown and caramelize, approximately 10 minutes. Stir in garlic, ginger, tomato paste and spices. Cook, stirring 2-3 minutes until the spices are fragrant and the tomato paste has darkened in color.
When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, remove skin (it should be fairly easy to peel the skin back with your hands or a pairing knife). Chop the flesh of the eggplant with a knife and add it to the soup with 6 cups broth or water (I used a mixture of leftover vegetable stock and water), chickpeas, carrots and salt. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat, until the carrots are softened and the flavors have melded, approximately 10 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk prior to serving.
Ladle soup into bowls and top with chopped cilantro.
Note: I recommend starting with 1 teaspoon of salt and adding additional to taste at the end after adding the coconut milk.
Wine Pairing: This soup is great paired with a fruity medium bodied red with smoky notes. We drank with a Zinfandel and it was fantastic. Syrah, Cabernet Franc and many Sangiovese or other Italian red varieties would all be great choices.