Aubergine Soup with Soft, Squidgy Buffalo Mozzarella & Gremolata
...but really, aubergine is one of my favourite words, especially when pronounced by a Frenchman, so I am sticking to it like honey. Aubergine is also one of my favourite colours. When I never get married, I'll be wearing an aubergine dress, mark my words.
Cook an aubergine, however, and it turns to sludge. Grey, brown, shitty-looking sludge. Pauvre aubergine: Its soup is more ugly than the ugliest soup you could ever imagine. But that doesn't mean you can't try and disguise it by veiling it with virginal white slices of tender mozzarella and throwing it a little "hope it'll be a winner at the dinner table" in the way of some gremolata confetti.
I pretty much stole this soup from Matthew Drennan's Simply Sensational Soup, but his version was as bland and dreary as the soup's tepid colour. I hope he doesn't mind me complaining. I'm British, so it's not easy for me to make a fuss. All it needed was some lemon juice and a decent amount of salt and it perked right up. Simple, yes. Sensational? I am not sure I would go quite that far, but the Frenchman, never overly generous with his praises, is a surprisingly vocal fan of it. We've made it more than once in the last two weeks.
My Sorta Recipe:
Huge Aubergine weighing >= 1.0 lbs and <= 1.5 lbs, roughly cubed, skin on
1 large shallot, finely diced
1 clove garlic minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chicken stock (or alternative if you are a vegetarian)
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
1/3 cup cream
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon salt
8 oz soft, squidgy, fresh buffalo mozzarella
1 portion gremolata recipe(1 clove garlic, zest 1 lemon, 1 tablespoon parsley)
-Put oil in a heavy pan over a low heat
-Add shallot and garlic and sautée slowly until soft and translucent
-Add aubergine cubes and continue to cook on low heat, about 45 minutes, stirring regularly, until all the pieces are soft and tender
-Add salt and chicken stock, turn heat to medium for 5 minutes, using the liquid to dislodge any little pieces of onion, garlic and aubergine stuck to the pan sides back into the mix
-Cool down a little before transferring to a mean-arsed blender where you should whip it's aubergine-arse for at least 3 minutes until it's as smooth as you can be bothered to wait for
-Return to the pan and stir in cream, chopped parsley and the juice of a lemon. Taste and adjust any of the above ingredients to your own personal preference
-Heat slowly over low heat until piping hot. Be careful - this soup will bubble and splutter and shoot eggplant splats all over your neat, tidy kitchen
-Finely cut an 8oz blob of premium mozzarella into thin slices
-Spoon the soup into four bowls, cover each surface with mozzarella and then sprinkle with gremolata and top off with freshly cracked black pepper.
You know what? Eff the aubergine. Whatever! Next time you make some soup, any old soup, just smother it with mozzarella and gremolata and it'll probably taste better.
Made a great version of this soup with: 2 aubergines (about 28 ounces), 2 shallots, 2 garlic, 2 cups chicken broth, 2 cups water, juice one lemon and 1 tsp salt + 2 Tbsp chopped parsley. Didn't add the cream this time and I loved it still. (Mozzarella & gremolata still made an appearance on the surface, though!)