Sunday, November 25, 2012

Grilled Aubergine Soup with Garlic and Sage and a glimpse at "The Pedant in the Kitchen"

Julian Barnes, a talented English writer, shares in a delightful humorous style the Pedant´s successes, frightening moments, discoveries, confusion and moments of happiness in "The Pedant in the Kitchen". This lovely book of 136 pages including illustrations takes anyone who wants to peek into other people´s kitchen to perfect dinner parties, to witness the inventory audit of the Pedant´s bottom drawer of questionable utensils, to picture the French roads with warning signes declaring "Betteraves" (beetroot), to signing up for a shopping course and handling a surly butcher or a teasing fishmonger.

I sympathise with the author as I have found myself in situations when following a recipe my cooking creation did not turn out as I had hoped or being utterly puzzled reading a recipe where the main ingredient promised in the name of the dish was not not even mentioned on the ingredient list. How much is a dash of sherry or a little sugar, how big is a medium size onion or a handful of rice? The only advice I have and follow myself is to improvise. Oscard Wilde said that cooking is an art. The Pedant in Barnes´book says that cooking is about making do with what you´ve got in ingredients, equipment and skills.

Grilled aubergine soup with garlic and crispy sage

Grilled aubergine soup with garlic and sage
Ingredients for 2-3
2 medium aubergines (400-500g)
olive oil
6 cloves of garlic
a dash of sherry (ca 0.5dl)
1 l stock
0.5-1dl fresh cream or creme fraiche
6-8 fresh sage leaves
grilled paprika, yellow and red (optional)

Set the oven to 220 degrees Celsius at grill regime.

Rinse the egg plants and cut into 5-7mm slices. Place them side by side on a baking tray on a baking paper. Sprinkle with some olive oil. Grill for 15 minutes until the slices have softened.

In a pan heat 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil and add cleaned garlic cloves. Cook for a few minutes on medium heat until the garlic softens but does not burn.

Take the aubergine slices from the oven, cut into smaller pieces and add to the pot. Stir in the oil and add a dash of sherry. Let it sizzle away. Then add the stock and cook for about 10 minutes until the aubergine is soft. Take off the heat and purée with the mixer or blender.

Finish the soup with cream and salt - pepper to your taste.

In a small pan heat some olive oil (enough to cover the bottom of the pan) and fry the fresh sage leaves briefly - no more than a minute - from both sides until they become crispy. Drain on a kitchen paper.

Grilled paprika adds colour and texture to the egg plant soup

To make the grilled paprika, place whole peppers on the baking tray together with the aubergines and grill until the skin turns dark brown turning from side to side. Remove the peppers from the oven into a bowl and cover the hot peppers with a plastic bag for a few minutes. This will loosen the skin. Peel and cut into suitable slices. Store the grilled paprika in a jar with olive oil.

Serve the soup with slices of grilled paprika and the crisp sage leaves.

More soup recipes:
Spicy sweet potato soup
Leek and potato soup with blue Stilton
Salcify cream soup