Creamy Parsnip Soup with Marinated Eggplant

White bowl of creamy parsnip soup with eggplant as a garnish on a hot pink background.

There’s something to be said for soup after a 5 day period of eating nothing but extremely rich food, especially if its at the beginning of December and the cold weather practically makes it the required light food of choice. This parsnip soup is deceptively creamy, its texture suggests the use of heavy cream when in actuality the blame falls firmly on Greek yogurt. You won’t miss the the fat, and in fact the yogurt is preferable as it lends the soup a soft tanginess that ensures its subtlety isn’t drowned by its own voluptuousness. That being said, the amount of butter and oil called for could easily be reduced by half but I think the fat adds an extra layer to its already silken perfection. Marinated eggplant is a favourite of mine, and if you have a jar of it already then please feel free to use that (I never do because I tend to devour jars in their entirety with a fork, all in one sitting). The eggplant isn’t necessary but it’s definitely a good thing, so make it if you have the time. You could always make the soup and eggplant the day before, blending the soup before you want to heat it up and letting the eggplant mellow in its juices at room temperature an hour before serving. Some parsley or cilantro would be beautiful as well, just snip them with scissors into very small pieces – you’d want just enough to add a dusting of greenery to the final picture.

creamy parsnip soup:

1 Tbsp. butter

1 Tbsp. olive or grapeseed oil

1 large bunch of scallions, cut into 1 inch pieces

2 cloves of garlic, each cut into 3 pieces

2 lbs. of parsnip, peeled and cut into smallish pieces

4 cups of vegetable stock

1 tsp. curry powder

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

Kosher salt, to taste

  1. Melt the butter and oil together over medium heat in a large soup pot. Add the scallions, garlic, and parsnip and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Pour in the vegetable stock and bring to a gentle boil. Turn the heat down to encourage a gentle simmer, cook with the pot lid on for 20 minutes or until the parsnip is very soft. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
  3. Using either an immersion blender or a stand up version blitz the soup until silken and very creamy. Pour 3/4s of it back into the soup pot and blend the Greek yogurt and curry powder into the remaining soup, add to the soup pot. At this point it’s a good idea to test for seasoning, the soup will almost definitely need salt and even some extra curry powder if you’re inclined.
  4. Heat the soup over low heat until nice and hot, being careful not to let it boil. Serve in a shallow bowl with the marinated eggplant strewn across the surface.

marinated eggplant garnish:

1 small eggplant, cut into medium sized dice

Olive oil for drizzling

1 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. red chilli flakes

1 tsp. kosher salt

Juice of 1/2 lemon or 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Scatter the eggplant pieces in a single layer over a parchment lined baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle the dried oregano, chilli flakes, and kosher salt evenly, tossing to coat.
  2. Roast for 25-35 minutes, stirring periodically. When they look evenly browned and crisped at the edges remove from the oven and transfer to a small bowl. Spritz with lemon juice or add the vinegar, stirring once again to coat.
  3. Use immediately or cover and keep in the fridge for up to 3 days, bringing them to room temperature before using as a soup garnish (these are also very good cold as an addition to an antipasto salad plate).

Oh, this is such a pretty one! Hex is an amazing album, just perfect for traipsing alone around the apartment in the depths of intellectual introspection or, more likely, pondering what to make for dinner that night or where your cookbooks should go in your solarium/office. With me it’s the latter, for I wouldn’t be myself if I wasn’t constantly adding lists to my lists of lists.

Bark Psychosis – Absent Friend

Simple Roasted Vegetables and Brown Rice

Roasted Vegetables and Rice

Today was my first day back at work after being on holiday visiting my family in London, Ontario for the week and I was really feeling the adjustment tonight when I got home. It’s especially easy on nights like this to succumb to delivery, but roasted vegetables are a fast and hands off way to get dinner on the table quickly; even allowing you to have a dance party in the living room to unwind while they’re in the oven. I took one eggplant, quartered, and salted it while I cut up about half a bundle of asparagus and 2 sweet peppers. I rinsed the eggplant with cold water and patted it dry with a paper towel before cutting into a 1 inch dice. Toss all of the vegetables together in a roasting pan with a generous amount of olive oil, salt, pepper, dried oregano and dried basil. Roast at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally so that the cut vegetables surfaces are evenly browned. Once thoroughly roasted snip in about a 1/2 cup of fresh basil and a scant 1 cup of grated Reggiano (Vacche Rosa if you can find it.) Have the rice cooking alongside the vegetables and then stir in a small pat of butter before serving with extra cheese and fresh basil. Easy!

Most importantly, have a living room dance party while the roasting is occurring…

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Zero

Eggplant Parmesan

eggplant parmesan

I’ve been on a bit of a writing hiatus this summer, it’s largely due to technological issues (but a new computer for me!) and a general feeling of malaise that I always experience in summer. It has never been a productive couple of months for me, I spent most of my summer vacation reading in bed when I was a little girl – specifically cookbooks from the library and John Bellairs novels. I also rode my bike and took swimming lessons but the memories of my lazy summers have determined my current behaviour when I become too warm to think rationally. Regardless, new computer + impending autumn is just the formula I need to get out of this summertime slump.

I’m dealing with a rather full on obsession with eggplants at the moment, I’m putting them in everything and taking pictures so there will inevitably be more eggplant related posts in the near future. This is an eggplant parmesan that’s lighter in flavour and texture than a more traditional recipe. The marinara sauce is light and uncomplicated and doesn’t mask the delicate flavour of the fresh mozzarella. Granted, there are several steps to this recipe so give yourself plenty of time to put it together. You could also make the eggplant up to the stage where it’s been cooked and freeze it on a baking sheet before placing it in freezer bags or containers. The same can be done for the marinara sauce, leaving a last minute dinner that needs only cheese and fresh basil and parsley (it wouldn’t be criminal to serve it without the garnish.) My favourite way to serve this is with a green salad dressed with lemon juice or sherry vinegar and a good fruity olive oil.

eggplant parmesan:

2-3 small(ish) eggplants, sliced into 2 cm rounds

Kosher salt

Panko crumbs

All purpose flour, mixed with geneous amounts of freshly cracked pepper and kosher salt

2 eggs, beaten

Canola or grapeseed oil, for shallow frying

 

1 small onion, diced

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 cup of one or a combination of the following, finely minced: red pepper, carrot, celery, or leek

1 bottle of tomato passata or good quality canned, diced tomatoes with their juices

Pinch of dried chilies

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1/2 cup of fresh basil, cut in a small chiffonade

1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped finely chopped

 

Fresh cows’ milk mozzarella, Mozzarella di Bufala, fior di latte, burrata, etc.

1. Place the eggplants, one layer at a time, in a shallow colander and generously salt between each layer. Allow the eggplants to drain over the sink for half an hour before rinsing thoroughly with cold water and drying carefully with a clean tea towel.

2. While the eggplants are draining, make your marinara sauce by sautéing the onion and garlic over medium heat until just beginning to soften. Stir in the vegetables and cook for about 5 more minutes before adding the tomatoes, dried chilies, salt, pepper, basil, and parsley (reserve a small amount for garnish.)  Cook, partially covered and stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.

3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a large shallow casserole dish or baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the marinara sauce in a thin layer on the bottom (you may find you need a couple of dishes, which gives you a perfect opportunity to wrap one of them tightly in foil and freeze for a future meal.)

4. Heat the largest skillet you have (or better yet, 2 of the largest skillets you have and working very carefully) over medium-high heat with enough oil to generously coat the bottom while you get the eggplant ready to be shallow-fried. I find that this works best if you use a pie plate for the eggs and 2 large Ziploc bags for the panko crumbs and flour, it will inevitably be a little bit messy but the end result is very much worth it (and you can wash the Ziploc bags and reuse them again.)

5. Alternately coating the eggplant slices in the flour, eggs, and panko crumbs. Place the slices as you go in the hot oil, cooking for about 4 minutes per side, keep an eye on them as they may need more or less time. Lay the cooked eggplant slices on top of the sauce. Tear the fresh mozzarella of your choice into generous chunks and scatter over the eggplants.

6. Cover the baking dish or sheet with a lid or aluminum foil. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes; remove foil and continue to bake for another 10 minutes. Serve while still quite hot with generous amounts of the marinara sauce spooned over the eggplant parmesan and garnish with the fresh basil and parsley.

It’s also been Gary Numan time lately (eggplants and Gary Numan, I wonder if there’s a connection I’m not seeing?) and it’s been all about The Pleasure Principle.

Gary Numan – Metal