For the last year and a half, I’ve been 100 per cent neglecting this blog. Although I thought about it constantly, my brain couldn’t handle it. My full-time job involved blogging every single day and I was absolutely spent when I got home. However, now that I’m done with that chapter of my life, I’m ready to recommit to Jordana Living. I hope I haven’t lost my wonderful, faithful readers that I appreciate oh so much.
I really wanted to start things up again with a perfect meal – and I think I found it last night.
As I was grocery shopping yesterday, I happened upon a pile of deep purple eggplants that were in need of some love. It seems that once the weather gets chilly, the eggplant is given the cold shoulder, but I wasn’t quite ready to get on that train and leave it in the dust.
The great thing about eggplants is that, although they can be the perfect spring item when served with fresh lemon juice, tomatoes and a sprig of basil, they get delightfully smoky and sweet when they’re roasted whole. And they can be the perfect cure for those frosty fall blues.
This pot of goodies is inspired by my recent trip to Turkey. My first lunch there was a smoky tomato-based lentil soup. And my first real dinner there consisted of a baked eggplant stuffed with plenty of veggies and topped with gooey melted cheese. A combo of the two seemed to me to be the perfect fix for my chilly fingers and toes after the walk home from the supermarket.
The key to the richly spiced and comforting soup is to roast all your veggies and finish things off with some classic Turkish spices, like cumin, paprika and allspice.
This recipe is hearty enough to serve four if you add some toasts on the side and a few clumps of goat cheese on top. Here’s what it’ll take:
- 1 large eggplant, halved
- 3 plum tomatoes, halved and cored
- 8 cloves of garlic, still in the skins, tops cut off
- 1 onion, peeled and halved
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup green or brown lentils
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- pinch red pepper flakes
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- goat cheese to garnish (optional)
- Drizzle olive oil, salt and pepper over the eggplant, tomatoes, garlic and onion. Roast in a baking sheet for 45 minutes, cut side down. The eggplant may need an hour; scoop it a bit to see if it will come out of the skin to check.
- Meanwhile, in a small pot, bring lentils and 1 cup of water to a boil with a sprinkle of salt. Let simmer 20 minutes or so, until they’re cooked but not mushy and the water has been absorbed.
- Once the vegetables are done, peel the tomato skins off using tongs and discard. Scrape all the eggplant out of the skin and squeeze the garlic out of its skins, too. Combine the eggplant, tomato and garlic with the vegetable stock in a pot and puree with an immersion blender. If you don’t have one, use a regular blender.
- Dice up the roasted onions and throw them in the pot after blending the soup base. Add the lentils, too.
- Cook the soup over medium heat, adding the cumin, paprika, allspice and red pepper flakes.
- When it’s heated through, crumble some goat cheese on top and serve with your favourite crackers or toasts. Feel free to omit the cheese for a vegan version.
This soup is super-easy to reheat after keeping it in the fridge or freezer and is a good one-pot meal that’s low in fat, high in fibre and packed with healthy veggies.
Not into the middle eastern flavours? You could easily take an Italian route by using basil and oregano instead of the other spices and garnishing with a little Parmesan.