Monday, May 9, 2011

Eggplant and White Bean Soup, Alanis, and Me

In the autumn of 1996, I heard Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic” approximately 12,457,233 times.

(In the years following, the only tunes that came close to that number were the Goo Goo Dolls “Iris,” “Smooth” by Carlos Santana and Rob Thomas, and that godawful Nickelback song that you couldn’t escape if you blew off your ears, stuffed socks in the resulting head wounds, and then set those socks on fire.)

Like every other not-a-girl-not-yet-a-woman at the close of the 20th century, Alanis appealed greatly to me. Her voice was rockin’, her hair was pretty, and I totally let it pass when she mistook irony for sheer bad luck. But even I, a headstrong Labatt’s lover who listened to the first track from Jagged Little Pill as if it held all the secrets of the universe, grew tired of Alanis after awhile. It wasn’t anything she did. It was just … her songs, though strong, were mercilessly overplayed. It got so bad that my friends would switch the radio station when “You Oughta Know” came on, because – really? Dave Coulier? In a theater? Cut. It. Out.

Time passed. I graduated, got a job, started dating this guy. Several guys, even.

And then, years later, right around the time she released her cover of Black-Eyed Peas “My Humps” (a song surely co-written by Satan), I got to digging Alanis again. Like an old friend who had gone away to grad school in Saskatchewan, it was really nice to see her happy, not to mention gleefully taking the piss out of herself. Plus, I don’t think I had heard “Ironic” in about a year, so that helped.

Eggplant is like Alanis.

Hear me out here. About two years ago, it seemed as if every other recipe I tried involved eggplant. Its versatility and low cost were tremendously appealing, as was the idea that it could actually taste good. An eggplant hater early in life, I discovered its purple majesty far too late, and wanted to make up for lost time. After awhile, though, I started getting a little sick of the vegetable, and as a result, didn't go near it – in any form – for months and months.

Then, last week, this recipe for Eggplant and White Bean Soup appeared at stonesoup. Eggplants aren’t quite in season in the U.S., but that creamy, fibery, deeply flavored-looking concoction was just too tempting.

So, I made it last night, following Jules’ original recipe fairly closely, with one big exception: Instead of using the bean juice for the soup broth, I subbed in chicken stock. Not having tasted the bean juice version, I can’t definitively say the stock variation is better, but it was dang good. Dang good. Like, Alanis-good. And with it, I've arrived back in Eggplantville.

Isn't it ironic?


If you like this, you’ll love:

Eggplant and White Bean Soup
Serves 2 or 3
Adapted from stonesoup.

1 eggplant, sliced in half lengthwise
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 can cannelini or small white beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup chicken broth, plus another 3/4 cup set aside
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1) Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with Pam. Place eggplant cut-side down on foil and bake 25-30 minutes, until eggplant is tender and a little browned on the exposed flesh. Remove from oven and set aside until cool enough to handle.

2) Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft and lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Add beans and 3/4 cup chicken broth. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes.

3) Scrape insides of eggplant halves into bean mixture. Heat for 1 or 2 minutes. Using a hand blender or a regular blender, puree into desired consistency. (Be very careful if using a regular blender that it doesn’t splash.) Add more chicken broth if you’d like it soupier. Salt and pepper to taste. Stir in lemon juice and serve.

NOTE: This can easily be made into a vegetarian/vegan soup by using vegetable broth. Try it!

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, Protein, and Price Per Serving
2 servings: 349 calories, 9.6 g fat, 20.4 g fiber, 19.6 g protein, $1.64
3 servings: 232 calories, 6.4 g fat, 13.6 g fiber, 13.1 g protein, $1.09

1 eggplant: 132 calories, 1.1 g fat, 18.7 g fiber, 5.6 g protein, $1.26
1 tablespoon olive oil: 119 calories, 13.5 g fat, 0 g fiber, 0 g protein, $0.10
1/2 large onion, chopped: 32 calories, 0 g fat, 1 g fiber, 0.7 g protein, $0.25
1 can cannelini or small white beans: 385 calories, 0 g fat, 21 g fiber, 28 g protein, $0.79
3/4 cup chicken broth, plus another 3/4 cup set aside: 25 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g fiber, 4.9 g protein, $0.60
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper: negligible calories, fat, fiber, and price, $0.02
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice: 4 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g fiber, 0 g protein, $0.25
TOTAL: 697 calories, 19.1 g fat, 40.7 g fiber, 39.2 g protein, $3.27
PER SERVING (TOTAL/2): 349 calories, 9.6 g fat, 20.4 g fiber, 19.6 g protein, $1.64
PER SERVING (TOTAL/3): 232 calories, 6.4 g fat, 13.6 g fiber, 13.1 g protein, $1.09

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Amy said...

I was nearly 100% certain the Nickelback song you were referring to was "Photograph." Other than the fact that I was mistaken, I concur with everything :)

And I'm still a bit of an eggplant-hater. I would like to correct that, so maybe this soup will help.


Mary said...

This sounds delicious. This is my first visit to your blog, but I'll be back. I really like the food and recipes you feature here. You've created a lovely spot for your readers to visit and I really enjoyed the time I spent here. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

Rhi The Challenged Cook said...

As a teen I drove my Alanis-hating mother crazy by playing Jagged Little Pill over and over. I always made her listen and asked her "how can you not love this?" As an adult I'm going to make this soup for my eggplant-hating husband and ask the same question. Thanks for the inspiration, I think it sounds amazing.

Alex said...

I just made it, and it is amazing! I put some fresh corn and garlic in it and it is a dream! Best dinner I've had in a long time!