For the monthly Royal Foodie Joust at The Leftover Queen I needed to use eggplants, lentils, and cinnamon. Even though the task seemed easy, I had never tried mixing eggplants and cinnamon. Well, I soon found out that they are a perfect match to make a wonderfully warm and comforting soup for a chilly day!
1 large eggplant
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
salt, paprika, garlic powder and pepper to taste
Extra-virgin olive oil
3 strips (3 ounces) bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/4-inch half-moons
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 cups lentils, picked over and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) reduced-sodium chicken broth (3 1/2 cups)
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese
1) Slice eggplant lengthwise into very thin slices. Brush or spray slices with olive oil; sprinkle with salt, paprika, garlic powder, pepper, and cinnamon. Grill on electric/outdoor grill until each side has golden brown grill marks and is fragrant. Reserve for garnish.
2) In a Dutch oven (or other 5-quart pot with a tight-fitting lid), cook bacon over medium-low heat until browned and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat.
3) Add onion and carrots; cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomato paste, and cook 1 minute.
4) Add lentils, thyme, broth, and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer. Cover; cook until lentils are tender, 30 to 45 minutes. Add salt and pepper if necessary.
5) Arrange grilled eggplant slices on deep bowls. Laddle lentil soup, top with grated parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.
Lentil soup adapted from the book Everyday Food - Great Food Fast by Martha Stewart.