Roasted Eggplant, Pumpkin, and Red Lentil Soup

Christmas is coming and in two days I’ll be on my way home to New York, blasting Holiday music in my car and pretending I can sing like Maria Carey.  I have over a week off and that means spending time with my family, running in the daylight, trying out recipes in a newly renovated kitchen (thanks mom!), and of course blogging about it all.  It also means that the current state of my refrigerator is looking pretty sad. 

I declare any week before I leave town “Barebones Week” where, instead of going on a grocery run the Sunday before, I get creative with whatever I have lying around so that I don’t have to waste anything.  It’s quite the challenge really, making sure I have just enough to keep my stomach and taste buds happy yet still managing to finish every perishable item in my fridge.  I’ve actually gotten pretty good at the game and find that some of my best meals come when I’m forced to get creative.

Sunday night, I found myself hungry, wandering around my kitchen looking for something to cook.  I felt like a chef on one of those food network shows.  You have: half an eggplant, red lentils, and almond milk.  Your secret ingredient: pumpkin.  You have an hour before your hunger reaches the “Critical Zone” and you resort to shoveling handfuls of pretzels into your mouth and calling it dinner.  GO! 

I have a mild (ok major) obsession with soup, especially homemade.  I love to make big batches of my favorites and enjoy them for days on end.  When Meghann posted this recipe for Butternut Squash and Apple Soup I thought I had died and gone to soupy heaven.  After making far too many batches than I care to admit, I found Jena’s Curried Butternut and Red Lentil Soup and loved how the lentils made the soup extra hearty and filling.  As I stared at my ingredients on hand, my mind immediately went to soup (I store my lentils next to my immersion blender).  I knew I wanted to use these recipes as an inspiration, adjusting for the obvious fact that I didn’t have any butternut squash.  And thus, Barebones Soup was born. (Or Roasted Eggplant, Pumpkin, and Red Lentil Soup if you’re feeling fancy.  Or want to impress your Mother).

I apologize that I took no pictures.  I’m a rookie blogger and I was hungry.  It looks beautiful though.  Tastes pretty good too!  But don’t take my word for it- go make it for yourself!

Barebones Soup (makes two servings)

The Starting Lineup:

1/3 Cup Red Lentils

1/2 Medium Eggplant

1 Cup Broth of your choice (I used vegetable because that’s what was in my refrigerator)

1/2 Cup Plain Almond Milk (Coconut Milk would also be delicious)

1/2 Cup Canned Pumpkin

~ tsp Cumin

~ 1/2 tsp nutmeg

Salt and Pepper

The Play by Play

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.  Slice eggplant down the middle and place, face side down, on a baking sheet.  Bake for 40 minutes or until insides are soft.

Meanwhile, bring lentils and 1/2 cup broth to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes until lentils start to dissolve and most of the broth is absorbed.  When eggplant is ready, remove from oven, scoop out insides and add to pot with lentils.  (Side note: a few spoonfuls of eggplant puree may have gone directly into my mouth.  Note to self: invent more roasted eggplant recipes soon).

Add remaining broth, pumpkin puree, almond milk and spices.  Cover and simmer for another 10 minutes, or more if you have better willpower than I do, to allow the newly added ingredients to heat and the flavors to develop.  Blend using an immersion blender until desired consistency is reached.  (Note: I wanted to leave some of the pieces of eggplant and lentils whole in the soup so I only blended for about 45 seconds.  It turned out beautifully but feel free to continue to blend if you’re looking for more of a puree).  When blending is finished, taste, alter seasonings to your liking, and enjoy. 

This soup is perfect when you’re craving comfort food but want something light enough to leave room for Christmas Cookies.  It would be delicious served over fluffy white rice, with a crusty baguette, or if you’re like me, with a burned pita rescued from the depths of your freezer.  (Toaster FAIL).  But I just called it an extra-large pita chip, collapsed on my couch, and consoled myself with spoonful after spoonful of Barebones Soup.