a little fire-roasting can’t hurt.

DSC01994So I managed to burn my hand while cooking last night, and of course it was a completely mindless accident – I grabbed a pan that had just been in a 400 degree oven (ouch!!).  Yup, it put a damper on the night, but the worst part is that I felt so dumb about it.  If only I had burned my hand doing something kind of cool – like fire-roasting some eggplants (or even some marhsmallows?) – I could have at least felt some sort of dignity or satisfaction about the whole ordeal.  

Anyway, I did end up fire-roasting some eggplants last night.  And I didn’t burn my hand doing it.  Turns out it’s a pretty tame activity that is unlikely to set off any smoke alarms.  It makes such a difference in the flavor of the eggplant – you get that nice smoky, charred flavor (and I actually think it’s just as easy as roasting the eggplant in the oven).  

What did I do with these fabulous roasted eggplants?  I made some roasted eggplant and goat cheese soup!  It’s absolutely delicious (i.e. we finished the whole pot in one sitting) and you’d never know it was healthy.  No cream, no whole milk…just some almond milk and goat cheese (which is very light, and as you may already know, I just love cooking with). So I really think you should try this, and if you want to peel and roast your eggplants in the oven, nobody’s judging :)

Roasted Eggplant and Goat Cheese Soup (serves 4)

2 medium eggplants (about 2 lbs of eggplant)
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
2 cups unsweetened almond milk
5 oz. goat cheese
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
nonstick cooking spray
2 tbsp. chopped fresh mint (for garnish)

Rinse and dry off the eggplants.  Roast the eggplants over a stove burner (see roasting instructions below) and set aside to cool slightly (eggplants shouldn’t be completely cool, but cool enough to handle).  

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While eggplants are cooling, spray the bottom of a pot with nonstick cooking spray and add in the onion.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently to prevent burning, until the onion has softened (7-10 minutes).  Add in the garlic and cook for an additional minute.

Cut the eggplants in half length-wise and remove the flesh from the skin (remove as much of the flesh as possible – the closer it is to the skin, the stronger the “fire-roasted flavor” will be).  Roughly chop the eggplant flesh and add it to the pot, coating with onion and garlic. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and add in the vegetable broth.  Simmer for about 10 minutes,until most of the liquid is absorbed.  

Add in the almond milk, nutmeg, cayenne, and bay leaf.  Bring the soup to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add in the goat cheese, stir, and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.  Remove the bay leaf, and off the heat puree the soup with an immersion blender (or transfer to a regular blender).  Season to taste with salt and pepper (I used about 3/4 tsp. kosher salt).  Garnish with fresh chopped mint and serve.

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Fire-Roasted Eggplant:

Cover the stovetop with aluminum foil, cutting out a whole for the burner being used.  Place a wire rack over the burner (note: the wire rack may warp a bit from the heat), turn the heat on medium-low, and place one eggplant on the wire rack.  Turn the eggplant every 5 minutes – it should be fully roasted after about 20 minutes.  Be sure to keep an eye on the eggplant to prevent burning/sparks.

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