Creole Eggplant Soup
From an old Creole recipe, this offbeat eggplant soup was a favorite discovery on a trip to New Orleans many years ago. It makes a wonderfully warming soup for winter or early spring. It’s believed that the soup originated locally due to the abundance of the eggplant crop in the region.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 3 medium celery stalks, finely diced
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped or sliced
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons unbleached white flour
- 2 large potatoes, peeled and diced (about 1/2 inch)
- 1 large or 2 smaller eggplants (about 1 1/2 pounds),
peeled and diced (about 1/2 inch)
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1 teaspoon dried basil or several leaves fresh basil, thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried
- 1 to 2 cups unsweetened rice milk or other nondairy milk, or as needed
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
Heat the oil in a large soup pot. Add the onion, celery, and garlic and sauté over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until all are golden. Add a small amount of water if the mixture begins to seem dry. Sprinkle in the flour and cook, stirring, for another minute or so.
Add the potato and eggplant dice to the soup pot along with enough water to cover all but about an inch of the vegetables, leaving them above the water line. Bring to a slow boil. Add the curry powder, and the basil and thyme if using them dried (otherwise wait and add fresh herbs at the end). Stir well, then lower the heat, cover, and simmer gently until the potatoes are just tender, about 15 minutes.
Stir in the rice milk, more or less as needed to achieve a medium-thick consistency. Season with salt and pepper, then simmer for 10 minutes longer over very low heat, or until the potatoes are completely tender. Use a wooden spoon to mash a few of them, to thicken the base.
Stir in the parsley (as well as the basil and thyme if using fresh). If time allows, let the soup stand off the heat for an hour or so, then adjust the consistency and seasonings, and heat through as needed. Otherwise, serve at once.