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Monday, February 27, 2012

Roasted Eggplant Bisque with Honey-Harissa Sauce and Parmesan Crisps

Roasted Eggplant Bisque with Honey-Harissa Sauce and Parmesan Crisps

Roasted Eggplant Bisque with Honey-Harissa Sauce 
and Parmesan Crisps
by Victoria Challancin

We all have triggers.  Word triggers.  Visual triggers.  Olfactory triggers.  Musical triggers. Triggers that flag us, begging us to pay attention.  When I am browsing recipes, a few of my obvious word triggers are "eggplant, harissa, duck, cassoulet, sumac, dukkah, cardamom, 
ras el hanout, pipián, mole, rutabaga, grits", and oh-so-many more.  But if I spy these words, 
then it is certain I will check out the recipe.  One hundred per cent certain.  These ingredients speak to me, call to me, and insist I sit up an pay attention.

And being a spice lover, in January each year I look forward to seeing what the McCormick Spice Company will come up with for the flavor trends of the coming year.  This is often a 
case where my trigger words meet reality for me.  In the 2012 edition, the "Veggies 
in Vogue" section (how silly is that?  As if veggies are ever out of vogue!), there is a 
combination that made me stand to attention:  Eggplant with Honey and Harissa.  Two 
trigger words in one recipe. Whoopee!  In addition to giving a recipe for an Eggplant-Goat 
Cheese Tort with Honey-Harissa Sauce and one for a Grilled Eggplant Honey-Harissa 
Noodle Salad, McCormick's offered this recipe for Roasted Eggplant Bisque with 
Honey-Harissa Sauce and Parmesan Crisps.  Well, this was for me a must-try recipe.  And 
am I glad I did--it is unusual with a lovely blend of complex and complimentary flavors.

[I have much to say about harissa, wrote about it here, and will probably write more in
the future.] 

l first learned to love harissa when I encountered it regularly on the table as an everyday condiment in Morocco, where I lead yearly trips.  Later, I found a terrific version at a favorite 
falafel restaurant in Paris that I will eventually try to duplicate.  The version that adorns this eggplant soup is very pleasant and relatively mild.  The addition of honey gives it a 
wonderful soft sweetness as well. I can see that it could be used for many recipes as an 
unusual pick-me-up.

McCormick's eggplant bisque is a great recipe with great depth of flavor, however, I did 
tweak it a wee bit.  I made my Parmesan crisps in a dry non-stick skillet, added an extra red pepper to the harissa, and upped the amounts of the spices used.  I forgot to garnish with 
cilantro when I took the photos, but later added it.

Roasted Eggplant Bisque with Honey-Harissa Sauce and Parmesan Crisps
(Slightly adapted from a recipe from McCormick’s Spice Company)
Makes 4 servings.

Parmesan Crisps:
6 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese

Honey-Harissa Sauce:
2 large red bell peppers, roasted, peeled and seeded
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon
 caraway seeds, ground
1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, ground
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 to ½ teaspoon

1 large eggplant, peeled and diced (1-inch)
1 medium tomato, seeded and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup sliced leeks, white part only
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large
 garlic clove, minced
1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro

For the Parmesan Crisps: Sprinkle cheese into circles, 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter, in dry 
non-stick skillet, four at a time.  Cook 1 to 2 minutes minutes or until golden brown. Flip the crisps 
and cook on reverse side for 1 minute.  Remove from pan with a spatula and cool on wire rack. 
Set aside. 

For the Honey-Harissa Sauce:   Place all ingredients in blender or food processor. Blend 

or process on high speed until almost smooth. Set aside. 

For the Bisque: Preheat oven to 375°F. Toss eggplant, tomato, leeks, onion, oil, garlic and pepper 

in large bowl. Spread in single layer on foil-lined shallow baking tray.

Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until softened. Allow to cool slightly.  Puree 1/2 the vegetable mixture and 

1 cup of the stock in blender on high speed until smooth. Pour bisque into large saucepan. Repeat 
with remaining vegetable mixture and stock.

Stir in 2 tablespoons of the Honey-Harissa Sauce, cream, honey and salt. Bring to simmer, stirring occasionally. Pour bisque into 4 soup bowls. Top each with 1 teaspoon of the Honey-Harissa 
Sauce, cilantro and 2 Parmesan Crisps.

Test Kitchen Tip: Store leftover Honey-Harissa Sauce in refrigerator. Serve with grilled meats, or 
toss with pasta or couscous.


Roasted Eggplant Bisque with Honey-Harissa Sauce and Parmesan Crisps

I am sending this post to Deb, of Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sundays event.  Thank you, Deb, for your efforts!

California artemisias...

©Victoria Challancin.  All Rights Reserved.


FOODalogue said...

This sounds (and looks) wonderful to me. I'm very intrigued by honey-harissa!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I love those types of parmesan crisps-they're so addictive aren't they! :D And this bisque looks lovely and rich too!

Hotly Spiced said...

I love the look of this dish and especially your parmesan crisps. I bet it's hard to stop at one!

The Harried Cook said...

That looks SO delicious! Love the sound of it... and I adore parmesan crisps and yours look perfect! Honey-harissa sounds super interesting!

Thank you so much for stopping by my blog and commenting! If you watched me make that cake, you would have seen how harried I was! I am as harried as they come :) Thank you again... Love your blog and I will be back for more :)

Deb in Hawaii said...

Such a great and flavorful combination! I would have been caught by the ingredients in this one too. Thanks for sharing it with Souper Sundays.



Carol @ Always Thyme to Cook said...

I've never had eggplant as a soup, and combined with honey and harissa, it's a must try, looks fantastic. Pretty dishes, too!