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Charred Eggplant Soup with Cumin and Greek Yogurt

The supple texture of cooked eggplant is transformed into a soup that needs no cream to achieve its silken texture. Grilled eggplant slices assert their smokiness, shallots and garlic add pungent sweetness, white wine brings brightness, and a touch of musky cumin gives the soup an exotic flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for grilling and brushing
  • 2 large eggplants, about 2 1/2 lb. total, peeled and cut crosswise into slices 1 inch thick
  • 3 ripe tomatoes, about 1 1/4 lb. total, cored, halved and seeded
  • 3 carrots, peeled and finely diced
  • 5 shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 tsp. minced fresh thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 cup fruity white wine
  • 5 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more, to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek-style yogurt

Directions:

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a grill. Brush the grill grate with olive oil.

Brush the eggplant slices and tomato halves with olive oil and arrange on the grill directly over the heat. Cook, turning as needed, until softened and nicely grill-marked, about 8 minutes for the tomatoes and about 10 minutes for the eggplant. Transfer to a cutting board. When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skins. Coarsely chop all but 1 of the eggplant slices. Finely dice the remaining eggplant slice and set aside.

In a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium-high heat, warm the 1 Tbs. olive oil. Add the carrots and sauté until just beginning to soften, about 4 minutes. Add the shallots, garlic, thyme and cumin and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, coarsely chopped eggplant, wine and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover partially and simmer to blend the flavors, about 15 minutes.

Working in batches, transfer the mixture to a blender and process to a coarse puree. Pour the puree into a clean pot and add the 1 1/2 tsp. salt and pepper, to taste. Cook gently over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 10 minutes.

Taste the soup and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls, garnish each serving with a dollop of yogurt and a few of the finely diced eggplant cubes, and serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Soup, by Adam Ried (Oxmoor House, 2008).