It was freezing today, one of those November Saturdays that make you suddenly very aware that winter is just around the corner. So I decided to combat the cold the best way I know how: a spicy, hearty soup.
5 baby eggplants or 1 small one, cubed (1/2 inch or larger)
1 red onion, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 tin chopped tomatoes
3 c. stock
2 tsp. sugar
3 tbsp. peanut butter (chunky or smooth)
2 tbsp. red thai curry paste
1 tbsp. red pepper paste (or tomato paste)
1 tsp. salt
In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat 2 tablespoons of oil, then add the eggplant and red and yellow onions, sprinkle with sugar and a bit of salt. Mix well so that the eggplant especially is coated in oil, then cover and leave on low heat for about 30 minutes, until the onions are soft and caramelised and the eggplant is almost tender. (This is cheating a bit, and I'm well aware of it. Usually you'll be told to let the eggplant sweat, but I can never be bothered. I think the main reason you generally are advised to let it sweat is because the resulting dish can end up with oily deposits on the surface, but I don't mind that. Plus, it's also a bit more eggplanty and who doesn't like that?)
Stir in the thai curry and pepper (or tomato) paste and again make sure it's well-coated. Then leave for 5--8 minutes so that the eggplant picks up the heat of the thai curry. Add the tomatoes, stock and a bit more salt and bring to the boil. Take a ladle of the hot soup and mix in the peanut butter until it's completely 'dissolved', then add to the pot and then let simmer for about 45 minutes.
I also added about a cup and a half of leftover pasta sauce at this point, too, to thicken it up, which basically consisted of another half cup of tomatoes, some thinly sliced zucchini, a few roughly chopped mushrooms and a half cup of soya mince. The stock I used was a combination of leftover pasta water, saved from the night before, and some green bean water, saved from the lunch before. I've been doing this a lot lately, saving my boiling water to use as stock, and I love it!
This soup is highly versatile, so with a bit less stock you could serve it over rice as a chilli, or just keep it as it is and serve in a large bowl with a hunk of crusty bread. Either way, it is a fantastic winter warmer. Very nice with a glass of red wine, too.