Monday, November 25, 2013

Roasted Cauliflower and Eggplant Soup aka Cloud Soup (Recipe 8)

Roasted Eggplant and Cauliflower Soup (aka Cloud Soup)
I've been wanting to try to learn to cook with new ingredients that I don't really understand the whoseit whatits of, other than that they taste awesome when other people do.   I'm looking at you, restaurants of the Japanese/Indian persuasion!  We also know that when I get an idea in my head to do something, Ima do it.  I have been digging roasted cauliflower (is cauliflower is totally the darling of the foodie blogs/magazines/restaurants this fall-winter season or is it just me?) and am always partial to roasted eggplant, but if you remember, I wasn't totally sold on the recipe I adapted from Smitten Kitchen.  It's also North Pole cold in Boston, with a windchill of snot freezing in your nose (seriously, that's a real science term.  But wind gusts of like 30 mph in 24 degrees?  No thanks.  Guess who was grumpy for ten miles on the treadmill today as a consequence?). 

I digress, as usual.  Miso has always been something I've enjoyed, and attempting the combination of all these great things seemed a worthy pursuit.  PLUS, I just finished Ketchup Clouds, a new to us, but not new to the UK title (review to come), and thought this would be a respectful homage (or to any other book involving clouds - I'm drawing a blank)...but really, I didn't need any more excuses besides my belly.  I also really love the cover (and maybe want that dress).  So this afternoon, off I trudged to the grocery store to get some vitals after said terrible treadmill ten, bundled up to my eyeballs.  The first grocery store failed to have miso.  The second grocery store failed to have miso, which was just insulting as I'd walked a mile there in windgusts that whipped my bag off my shoulder.  At this point, I became embittered by the hardships I was facing (and also the wind), nutted it up, got a Zip Car, and done what I should have done in the first place instead of gambling on my local (insert choice explictative here) grocery store: rented a Zip Car to go to a far away place known as Whole Foods where they would have all the things and will make you pay double for them.  Oh, they didn't just have one kind of miso.  They had like EIGHT for me to choose from.  Take note, local grocery stores!  
At this stage, this soup may be the most unattractive,
unappealing thing you'll see all day.  Seriously, are those frog eggs?
Brains? Diced octopus in red mud or blood? Gross. 
Stick with it. 

Anyways.  Rant over.  The soup was totally worth the crazy $20 for miso odyssey, and it's surprisingly quick and low maintenance to prepare.  Pop the things in the oven, pop the things in a pot, blend away, enjoy.  Not too much cleanup, unless you get overzealous with your blending like moi and Pollock your wall!  I will say that I  hoped it'd be a more...white shade of cloudy, for the effect!  I don't know if it's the roasting, the eggplant seeds, or the broth (the broth I used was rather brown, though I suspect other brands may be more light in color).  I think the garnish of sesame seeds really helps complete the cloudy look though; they're like tiny raindrops all over the soup!  I'd strongly recommend this recipe for a terribly bitter day or a meeting of your book club when your book is either Ketchup Clouds, or say, a cloud themed book.  Seriously drawing an embarrassing blank...feel like I'm missing an obvious choice!

Roasted Cauliflower and Eggplant Soup
(aka Cloud Soup)

Roasted Cauliflower and Eggplant Soup (Cloud Soup)
Serves 6-8


1 medium/large eggplant, whole but halved
1 medium head of cauliflower (approximately 4 cups in pieces)
1 medium white onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
1 15 oz can small white beans
2 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
4 Tbsp white miso paste
4-6 cups low sodium vegetable broth
salt and pepper


1) Preheat oven to 400.  Drizzle around 1 Tbsp sesame oil over the cauliflower and lightly season with salt and pepper, tossing to combine, and placing on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  On another baking sheet or tray lined with paper, place your whole halves of eggplant face down.
2) Roast both for 40 minutes, until cauliflower begins to lightly brown and the skin of the eggplant is wrinkled.  
3) Let cool for 10 minutes, while you begin on the next steps.  When cool enough to handle, scrape the skin of the eggplant with a metal spoon to remove the flesh and seeds, discarding the skin.  
4) In a large Dutch oven, saute garlic and onion lightly in remaining sesame oil for 5-7 minutes until clear and soft.
5) Add miso and rice wine to the pot, stirring to coat and combine.  
6) Add 4 cups broth, beans, cauliflower, and eggplant, bring to a simmer, and cook mostly covered for 30 minutes.
7) Remove from heat.  Working with an immersion blender or in batches with a stand mixer, thoroughly blend the soup.  Add extra liquid if needed to thin the soup while blending.  You Cook 5-10 more minutes and serve with a dash or garnish of any of the following things: a drizzle of sesame oil, sriracha, sesame seeds, roasted mushrooms, avocado, wasabi peas, your own brilliant idea (do tell). 

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