Charred Eggplant Soup with Cumin and Greek Yogurt

Smooth, supple 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. 

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for grilling
  • 2 large eggplants (about 2½ pounds total weight), peeled and cut crosswise into slices 1 inch thick
  • 3 ripe tomatoes (about 1¼ pounds total weight), cored, halved, and seeded
  • 3 carrots, peeled and finely diced
  • 5 shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¾ teaspoon minced fresh thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 cup fruity white wine
  • 5 cups homemade or packaged low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ½ cup Greek-style plain yogurt

Directions

  1. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-high heat.  Replace the grill grate, heat it for about 10 minutes, and scrape it clean.  Brush the eggplant slices and tomato halves with olive oil and arrange on the grill directly over the heat.  Grill, turning as needed, until softened and nicely grill-marked, about 8 minutes for the tomatoes and 10 minutes for the eggplant.  Transfer to a cutting board.  When cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skins from the tomatoes.  Coarsely chop all but 1 of the eggplant slices.  Finely dice the last eggplant slice and set aside. 
  2. In a Dutch oven or other heavy pot with a lid, warm the 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat.  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 heat to low, cover partially, and simmer to blend the flavors, about 15 minutes.
  3. Working in batches, transfer the mixture to a blender and process to a coarse purée.  Return the purée to a clean pot and add 1½ teaspoons salt and pepper to taste.  Cook gently over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 10 minutes. 
  4. Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning.  Ladle it into warmed bowls, garnish each serving with a dollop of yogurt and a few of the finely diced eggplant cubes, and serve right away. 
Kate Sears Photo