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Updated: November 11, 2009 18:28 IST

Passion for purple?

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There's nothing like a bowl of eggplant soup to lift your spirits on a rainy day

Eggplant, or aubergine as it is called in France, is a vegetable known for its beauty as well as its unique taste and texture.

One of the most popular varieties of eggplant in North America looks like a pear-shaped egg, with glossy skin, and deep purple in colour. The flesh is cream coloured and spongy in consistency. While the different varieties do vary slightly in taste and texture, one can generally describe the eggplant as having a pleasantly bitter taste and spongy texture.

Eggplant is a good source of dietary fibre, potassium, manganese, copper and thiamine. In addition to containing a host of vitamins and minerals, it has important phytonutrients. Now, for a recipe.

Roasted Eggplant Soup

Ingredients

Eggplants: 2 medium

Tomatoes: 2 large

Onion: 1 medium, cut into 4 wedges

Garlic, peeled: 6 medium cloves

Extra virgin olive oil: 2 tbsp

Dried basil leaf: 1 tsp

Fresh lemon juice: 1 tbsp

Salt and pepper, to taste

Fresh chopped parsley, for garnish

Method: Heat oven to 400 degree F. Line a large baking pan with foil and brush with a little oil or spray with non-stick cooking spray. Cut each of the tomatoes into 4 wedges. Cut eggplant into 4 wedges, lengthwise. In a large food storage bag or bowl, toss the tomato wedges, eggplant slices, onion wedges, and garlic with olive oil. Spread the vegetables in the baking pan. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, turning once or twice, or until the vegetables are tender and browned. Scoop eggplant into a large saucepan; discard peel. Put remaining roasted vegetables in the saucepan along with the marjoram or basil, stock and lemon juice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and cover; simmer for 45 minutes, or until all of the vegetables are very soft. Remove from heat and let it stand for 15 minutes. Blend the eggplant and chicken broth mixture in 4 batches until pureed. Return the pureed mixture to the large saucepan and stir in cream. Heat until it begins to simmer. Add more stock if the mixture is too thick. Taste and add salt and pepper. Spoon into bowls and sprinkle a little chopped parsley, if desired.

BHOLANATH JHA, Chef de Partie, Taj Connemara

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