Aubergine & Lentil Tomato Soup
I made a most delicious and fabulous soup for dinner last night (even if I do say so myself)! A vegetarian friend came over and I always like to whip up something mind blowing for friends when they come for dinner... coaxing everyone over to vegan food one by one (not really - heehee - but I do like to show off that we eat amazing food).
I've been craving this soup for ages, because I ate something similar at La Cucina di Ciro for lunch not so long ago. The chef there is always so accommodating to Vegans, albeit cheeky about baked beans on toast, grass and lettuce (although, I would probably order it if I saw some home made baked beans on toast on the menu of an Italian restaurant). This dish below is what I ate there:
Blender (hand held is best)
2 Pots - one that holds at least 3 litres
Ingredients for my tjaaf-tjaaf version of this soup:
A generous amount of oil
2 - 3 Aubergines
1 brown onion
1 cup white wine
Sprinkle of rosemary
3 bay leaves
Fresh basil - a couple of leaves
3 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp sugar
Salt & Pepper
Splash of Worchester Sauce
1 litre bottle of Cassata (tomato puree)
1/4 cup of tomato paste
2 tbsp Ina Paarman Vegetable Stock Powder
1 cup black lentils
2 small potatoes
Fresh italian parsley - generous amount
A handful of cherry tomatoes
I used two separate pots for this, so as to blend one finely and keep the other with nice chunky bits of Aubergine.
Put a generous amount of oil in the pot - I'd go as far as a 1/4 of a cup because Brinjals absorb the oil, and generally just taste delicious if they're well fried. You can always pass on this amount of oil and do it with whichever method you prefer, should you wish to do so.
Set a pot with a litre or so of water to boil rapidly on the stove.
In the other pot Fry finely chopped onions in generous amount of oil until translucent, add herbs spices and garlic. When the bottom of the pot starts to get nice and brown, deglaze with a cup of white wine or alternatively a splash of white balsamic condiment. Boil away until the moisture is mostly gone.
Blanche the cubed brinjal in the rapidly boiling, salted, water for 15 - 30 seconds. Scoop out of water, do not drain as you will be using the water.
Add brinjal to the frying onions etc and stir to get even frying. Once well fried and reasonably well cooked - approxiamately 8 minutes of frying and stirring - add cassata and tomato paste. Switch off the heat after a minute - these are both already cooked, and don't need to keep cooking. You don't want to reduce it. Add a splash of Worcestershire Sauce, sugar and fresh basil. Cover and leave to stand.
While stirring the brinjal at intervals, start adding ingredients to your pot of rapidly boiling water that will now be reasonably peppered with bits of brinjal that you missed during the transfer. Add finely chopped potatoes, carrot, vegetable stock powder, lentils, a handful of fresh yet ripe cherry tomatoes and a generous amount of freshly chopped Italian Parsley (leaving some to add to the dish after plating). Let this boil until the potatoes are cooked. Don't get a fright if the water is black. Once thoroughly cooked, blend the ingredients in this pot. I use a hand held blender, they're wonderful! Blending these ingredients isn't a necessity, of course, but it makes the dish substantially creamier.
Once blended, add to the pot with the tomato and aubergines and give the whole mix a quick whizz, but you want to leave most of the brinjal whole, as it's a big part of the deliciousness of this soup.
Serve! It's quite rich because of the brinjal and the oil - and the lentils & potato make it very filling. Eat leftovers reasonably quickly... We ate it accompanied with a Woolworths Olive Foccacia - Le yum! Bon appetit!