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When I first heard that Yotam Ottolenghi and Sammi Tamimi were coming out with Jerusalem, I pre-ordered it, watched all the YouTube videos from Jerusalem On A Plate, and waited eagerly for two months. When my book finally arrived, I tore open the packaging and scanned every single page with a crazed grin on my face half hoping I might find a few inches of my cheek next to an apple stand and then surprisingly rejected when I didn’t.  Then I became overwhelmed with sadness, put the book on the shelf beside my other neglected Israeli cookbooks (The Book of New Israel Food, Orna & Ella – The Cookbook, Jerusalem – A Culinary Adventureand didn’t open it up again until last week.

For Yotam and Sammi, Jerusalem is where it all began, and their book is an attempt to recreate the flavors and smells from their childhood. For me, Jerusalem is really where my life started. 

Some of my closest friends today are from that trip, and Jerusalem is where I met and fell in love with my husband. Jerusalem is where I discovered my love of cooking, realized that I wanted to become a lawyer, and where I dream of returning every time I find myself in the library at odd hours. It’s impossible to describe the homesickness I feel when I think of our life in Jerusalem: the relief of cold tile under my feet; the look of soapy streams flowing from ground-floor apartments after a good “sponga”; the smell of caramelizing onions on Shilo St., children’s voices… everywhere; ice-cold canteloupe-flavored popsicles on the beach in Tel Aviv; bright colors; loud noises; hot days. 

I know I’ve probably mentioned this before, but Leah Goldberg said that “only birds know, suspended between Heaven and Earth, the pain having two homelands.” I read this line years ago and it has never left me because no matter what, I’ll never fully “fit in” in Jerusalem. But my identity has been so shaped and affected by my life there that “home” doesn’t really fit anymore either…

I started this blog to keep “Jerusalem” in my every day life, that is, the feelings, inspiration, creativity, and joy that I experienced there. My nostalgia and longing have really prevented me, though, from keeping that purpose alive. Because I don’t foresee getting back to Jerusalem for any significant amount of time in the near future, I have resolved to actually open up those Israeli cookbooks on my shelf, starting with this one.

This soup is slightly tweaked from Jerusalem – not because I know better – but because my friends Anna & Molly might (this is their version). My favorite aspect of this recipe is that you don’t have to chop, dice, mince or do anything to the garlic other than crush the hell out of it. The roasted flavor is strong but brightened up by the sweetness of the tomatoes and freshness of the lemon. I made it twice last week, and by day four, I made it into breakfast shakshuka (see below) – very hip.

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Recipe slightly adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook, Jerusalem

Makes about 4 servings for hungry, hungry people

What You Need:

1 onion; diced

1 tblsp cumin seeds

1 tblsp olive oil

1 1/2 tsp tomato paste

3 medium-sized tomatoes; peeled (you can just use a peeler if the tomatoes are firm enough) and diced

4 big garlic gloves; crushed

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tblsp sugar

2 tblsp lemon juice

1 2/3 c water

2 c vegetable broth

1/2 c quinoa

1 eggplant; roasted

2 tblsp dill; finely chopped

Note: If you double this recipe, which I recommend, add slightly more tomato paste.

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How to do it:

Roast the eggplant over a medium flame on top of your burner. If you have a gas range, place some foil under the burner to keep the area clean (keeping the actual burner uncovered). Set aside until it cools and then remove the burnt flesh and stem. Set aside.

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Sautee the onions and cumin seeds for about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and saute for another minute. Add the diced+peeled tomatoes, sugar, lemon juice, garlic, vegetable broth, water, salt, pepper and eggplant. Cook on a simmer for about 15 minutes.

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While that’s simmering, cook the quinoa in a separate pot.

After the 15 minutes of simmering, use a standing mixer or blender to blend the soup until all the eggplant is blended. Garnish with dill and enjoy! Taste, taste, taste. It’s friggin’ delish.

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Leftover soup? Tear a handful of spinach and crack a couple of eggs. Salt & pepper, cover with foil, cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes. Makes for a delicious breakfast! 

(Check this out for a more traditional shakshuka recipe.)

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19 thoughts on “Unbearably Delicious Roasted Eggplant Soup + What To Do With Leftovers!

  1. Susan Bahary says:

    Yummy looking dishes!! Also, touching about your missing Israel. Love you lots Mom

  2. Yes please! This looks fantastic. Thanks for sharing. 🙂 I love your blog!

    1. Thanks Becca! It’s amazing! And thanks for checking out my blog. I’m looking forward to taking a peek at yours, too!

  3. Leslie Etedgee says:

    hey, Lauren,
    I am trying your flat bread recipe for tomorrow nights book club. Amalia introduced me to your blog… Once and reminded me about it again this week while I was visiting her and Sammy in Portland. Your recipes look great, your photos are wonderful but really, the way you share your feelings for food, family and Israel are so wonderful that I can’t help but love you!!! ~ Amalia’s mom, Leslie

    1. What a sweet comment, Leslie! Thank you! I think your book club friends are going to be impressed 🙂 Looking forward to seeing you this summer!

  4. Kristen says:

    This looks delicious! I need a few clarifications… You mention using slightly more tomato paste if doubling, does this mean slightly more than the single amount, so don’t double the tomato paste? There is also a mention if adding sugar but I don’t see it listed in the ingredient list with an amount. Am I missing it somewhere? Thanks, I want to make this for Passover next week!

    1. Hi Kristen, thank you so much for drawing my attention to this! You should use 1 tblsp of sugar for this recipe and if you’re doubling it, use 2 tblsp of sugar. As far as the tomato paste goes, I would just add it to taste. Double the amount and then add more until it is to your liking. That’s why I didn’t include an exact measurement, however, if you’d prefer a measurement, I would just add another 1/2 tblsp. I hope your family loves the son Passover. You might consider making it a day or two ahead so that the flavors can become even more delicious. Thanks!

      1. Kristen says:

        Thank you! We made the soup last night and enjoyed it with matzoh. It was delicious! Happy Pesach!

  5. I’m so glad! Hag sameach!

  6. Krista says:

    Oddly enough I found this recipe by Goggling “leftover grilled eggplant recipe.” I have had minimal contact with food from this region and it just sounded wonderful. My garden had gone crazy with eggplant and in desperation I roasted a bunch on the grill to put them to some use. This was perfect, I even tried the leftover breakfast recipe the next day. So good, so easy, so rewarding! Thank you Lauren for your wonderful recipes!

    1. Wow – what a treat to have a garden overgrown with eggplants. I am so happy to hear that you enjoyed the recipes! Let me know if you make any other recipes from the site, and thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment, Krista!

  7. Beatriz says:

    I wanted to try something different and Israeli soups must be the best soups in the whole world, thats how I came across your blog. I have cooked your soup today and must admit that while cooking it I wasnt too sure Id like it, I followed the recipe to a t and.. wow, I LOVE IT. Its gone strait into my ‘favourite recipes’ book. I cant wait to try more of your recipes. Thank you so much for sharing it. Hugs from Turkey.

    1. I am SO glad! Thank you so much for sharing!

  8. Melanie says:

    Hi your soup looks lovely. However, l do not like quinoa. Could l use bulgur instead? Thank you

  9. Sparkyjen says:

    Oh super fantastic! I wondered how else I could use eggplant. This may be just the ticket. Again, you make it look easy, and very appealing to the palate. The quinoa gives it some weight. Maybe, I’d like it better for dinner. I don’t eat much bread, but could make an occasional exception; especially with some I have spotted at my favorite grocery store. Thanks for sharing such lovely recipes, the vegetarian in me can make and enjoy!!!

  10. Dianne Fritsche says:

    Hmmm, this is an older recipe looking at the date but I am making this as I type and I am wondering when you add your quinoa? No one asked this and I don’t see it in the directions. Do you blend the quinoa? Or do you blend the soup THEN add the quinoa?
    Thank you,

  11. kismetis1 says:

    Hello, I am not sure if my question posted because my comp ran out of battery right when I posted it. Sorry if it shows up twice. Do you add the quinoa before or after blending the soup?

    1. Either way! If you add at the end, make sure it’s cooked quinoa!

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