Smoked eggplant and potato soup with kefalograviera

Subtle: Eggplant and potato soup.
Subtle: Eggplant and potato soup. Photo: Bonnie Savage.

The subtle smokiness of this rich and velvety soup is a quite unexpected flavour, but such a great companion to the eggplant, potato and salty cheese. Sauteing the potato in butter really contributes to the beautiful texture of this soup, so don't rush this step. This is nourishing and warming but elegant enough to kick off a dinner party.

Ingredients

4 eggplants (about 1.5kg)

80ml extra-virgin olive oil

5 eschalots, finely sliced

3 garlic cloves, finely sliced

salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

50g butter

2 Dutch cream potatoes, peeled and very finely sliced

500ml chicken stock

200ml cream

100ml olive oil

2 triangles of kefalograviera cheese, cut into 6 pieces each

lemon, to serve

toasted sesame seeds, to serve

 

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180C fan-forced (200C conventional).

2. Scorch the eggplants over gas burners or the barbecue until blackened all over, about 10 minutes. Place in a roasting tray and bake until soft, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool before scooping the flesh from the skin and chopping it roughly. Discard the skin.

3. Heat the extra-virgin olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the eschalots and garlic, season lightly and cook until golden. Add the butter and potato, season and cook for about 10 minutes while stirring constantly. Add the chopped eggplant and cook for two minutes while stirring. Add the stock and 500ml of water, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the cream and cook for five minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.

4. Add the soup to a blender or food processor and blend until very smooth. Adjust the seasoning to taste.

5. Heat the olive oil in a medium frying pan and fry the cheese for about two minutes until golden. Drain briefly on paper towel.

6. Portion the soup into small bowls and drop the cheese on top. Squeeze over some lemon, sprinkle on some sesame seeds and serve.

Tips

1. Choose large eggplants that are heavy in the hand.

2. You can use a different variety of potato for this, but make sure it's yellow-fleshed.

3. Try drizzling in some tahini and using crumbled feta rather than the fried cheese.