I watched Chef Peter Sclafani III of Sclafani's in the French Quarter, and Sclafani's in New Orleans East (one of the ONLY reasons to go into that part of the city) prepare this at the Food Heritage Stage at the 1998 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. It's always been one of my favorite dishes at Sclafani's, and luckily for us, I took copious notes.

Stuffed eggplant is a staple of Creole-Italian cuisine -- scoop out the flesh of an eggplant, mix it with yummy stuffing ingredients like shrimp and andouille, then stuff it back into the eggplant and bake. This recipe originally came from Chef John Folse, who decided that all these ingredients together would make a pretty dynamite soup. He's right. This is a fine example of contemporary Creole cuisine.

Peter's trick is to add the curry powder. You don't really taste curry in the final product, but a bit of a mysterious layer of additional complexity to the seasoning.

In a large stock pot, melt the butter and saute the eggplant until slightly soft. Add the onions, season with a little salt and pepper, and saute until translucent; then add the celery, bell peppers, garlic and tomatoes. Saute for about 5-10 minutes until the vegetables soften up. Add the curry and rosemary.

Add the flour for a roux, and use a wire whisk to incorporate it into the vegetable mixture. Cook the roux for 2-3 minutes until you get a white roux (don't brown the flour). Then add one or two ladlesful of the chicken stock, whisking to incorporate all the roux. Add the rest of the chicken stock and the andouille, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes.

Add the raw shrimp, the heavy cream, the green onions and parsley, Creole seasoning to taste, and cook for 10 more minutes. Check for salt and pepper.

Leave the soup chunky like it is for a rustic effect; for a more elegant soup, you may purée it in batches in a food processor, or right in the pot with a hand blender.

Yield: 12 servings


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Chuck Taggart   (e-mail chuck)