Makes:4 to 6 servings
This chilled eggplant soup from Chef Daniel Patterson of Coi in San Francisco and Plum in Oakland is packed with summer produce, thanks to a topping of crunchy, spicy vegetables. Patterson says this soup-salad hybrid is his Go-To Dish (watch him make it in our video). It’s a perfect light, cool summer meal.
What to buy: Padrón peppers are harvested in the summer months. Look for them in gourmet grocery stores or farmers’ markets, or order them online.
1 medium zucchini, trimmed, halved lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 cupcherry tomatoes, large dice
1/3 cup tightly packed purslane leaves
1/4 cup loosely packed purple basil leaves
Edible flowers, for garnish
Heat the oven to broil and arrange a rack in the middle.
Place the eggplants in a large roasting pan, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the measured olive oil, and season with salt. Broil, turning occasionally, until the skin of the eggplants has charred and the flesh has softened until it collapses, about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove the pan to a wire rack and let cool.
Meanwhile, place the coriander and cumin seeds in a small frying pan over medium heat and toast, shaking the pan occasionally, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and let cool. Transfer the spices to a spice grinder or mortar and pestle and grind coarsely; set aside.
When the eggplants are cool enough to handle, halve them lengthwise. Scoop out the flesh with a large spoon and place in a large saucepan with a tightfitting lid. (Discard the stems and skin.)
Add enough vegetable broth to the saucepan to just cover the eggplant flesh. Add the ground spices and red pepper flakes and stir to combine. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the flavors meld and the eggplant is completely falling apart, about 25 to 30 minutes.
When the soup is ready, prepare an ice water bath by filling a large bowl halfway with ice and water.
Transfer the soup to a second large bowl. Set the bowl with the soup in it over the ice water bath and let cool to room temperature. Cover the soup and chill in the refrigerator until completely cold.
When the soup is cold, purée it in a blender in batches until smooth. Pour the blended soup into a large bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of the lemon juice, the sherry vinegar, and 2 tablespoons of the remaining olive oil and whisk to combine. Taste and season with salt, pepper, and additional olive oil, lemon juice, and vinegar as needed. Return to the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Bring a medium saucepan of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the Romano beans and blanch until crisp-tender, about 3 to 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, cut the beans crosswise on the diagonal into 1/2-inch pieces and place in a large bowl.
Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat until smoking, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, place the Padrón peppers in a medium bowl, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt, and toss to combine. When the skillet is hot, add the peppers and cook, turning occasionally, until they start to char and blister, about 6 to 8 minutes total. Transfer to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, trim the stems, coarsely chop the peppers, and add to the bowl with the beans.
Trim the flesh and white pith of the preserved lemon and discard. Finely chop the remaining rind and add it to the bowl with the beans and peppers.
Add the zucchini, tomatoes, and purslane. Tear the purple basil into bite-size pieces, add it to the bowl, and toss gently to combine. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice and the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Taste and season with additional salt, pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil as needed.
To serve, ladle the soup into wide, shallow serving bowls. Divide the vegetable mixture over the soup and top with edible flowers and a drizzle of olive oil.
This recipe, while from a trusted source, may not have been tested by the CHOW food