The days are getting shorter and the nights longer and cooler as well. 1 March is officially the arrival of autumn in South Africa and very welcome so after a long hot and dry summer this year. I have two favourite times of the year, when autumn starts in March and when spring starts in September, the days have such a magnificence to it, it makes me nostalgic to the point where I always page through my mom’s handwritten recipe book to remember childhood favourites. My mom can cook, but if she had a choice she would rather not, so she wasn’t and still isn’t the most enthusiastic cook. However she had some great recipes, ok sometimes she would make them too many times and they became hated recipes by us, her four children, but one I fondly remember is her aubergine soup. She used to make it this time of the year with the end of season aubergines when the seeds inside was hard and needed some camouflage by being liquidated.
I have altered and tweaked the soup a little to be a more sexy and updated modern soup, I also added a few more flavourings, my mom wasn’t very creative when it came to flavours and her pantry was limited usually to parsley as the main herb to give flavour. Here is my version: Creamy Aubergine Soup with Courgettes and Smoked Garlic Pearl.
- 3 Large Aubergines
- 4-5 Courgettes
- 2 Shallots, finely chopped
- Olive Oil for frying
- 2 Large Garlic Bulbs, keep them whole
- 1l Chicken or Vegetable Stock
- 250ml Cream
- 250ml Dry White Wine
- 10ml Smooth Dijon Mustard
- 5ml Fine Fennel
- 5ml Fine Cumin
- 3ml Freshly grated Nutmeg
- 2ml White Pepper
- Salt to Taste
- Fresh Chives as garnish
- Parmesan shavings for garnish
A Bouquet Garni of:
- 2 Fresh Bay Leaves
- 6-8 Fresh Parsley Stalks
- 3-4 Sprigs of Thyme
- 6 Sage Leaves
The Smoked Garlic: If you have a smoker, follow the instructions and smoke the garlic over a mixture of wood shavings and rooibos tea, I use a very course rooibos tea from Eleven O’Clock Tea Company. Or if you don’t have a smoker see this video on how to make your own smoker by clicking here. Smoke the garlic for 5-10 minutes on a high heat, then turn the heat down to a medium setting and smoke another 20-30 minutes. After the last smoke, remove the smoker from the heat and allow the garlic to stand another 10 minutes. Open, remove and allow to cool. Once cooled down, you can start to peel the garlic, you should have these wonderful soft pieces of garlic, ready to eat.
My Tip: Smoke more than the two bulbs in this recipe, if you are a garlic lover, you’ll adore this and you can store it in bottles filled with some olive oil in the fridge. You’ll have lovely garlic and a beautiful smoked garlic oil to use as well.
To make the Soup: Peel the aubergines, slice them and boil them for 15-20 minutes in a pot of water with 2 teaspoons of salt and one lemon quartered – this is to keep this aubergine as white as possible. Once cooked, remove from the water and liquidise until smooth, set aside. In a large soup pot, fry the chopped shallots in a little olive oil until soft, add all your spices and fry to bring out the aromas, it takes about 20-30 seconds, add the wine and mustard and allow to reduce by half. Add the stock, the liquidised aubergines and the bouquet garni to the shallots and simmer for about 20-30 minutes over a low heat, lid off. After this cooking time, remove the bouquet garni, add the sliced courgettes and simmer until the courgettes are soft but still firm. Remove from the heat, add the cream and allow to stand for about 10 minutes and then taste for salt.
- Laddle a good spoonful onto each plate.
- Turn about three courgettes on their sides and set a smoked garlic pearl on each one.
- Sprinkle the plate with some chopped chives and some whole ones too.
- Serve with the same dry white you used in the soup, I like to use and serve it with a Zonnebloem Sauvignon Blanc and some crostinis.
- For a thicker and creamier soup, add two boiled potatoes to the aubergines when you liquidise them.
- For a smoother soup, pass the soup through a fine sieve right at the end before serving the soup.
- For a vegetarian option, replace the chicken stock with a strong vegetable stock.