You might think that since this is the second recipe I’ve posted with eggplants in a starring role, that I like them. But I’d have to be honest and admit they’re not my favorite. They can be too soggy fare sometimes when I’m looking for something more firm and substantial, which is why I’ve spent so much time figuring out ways to minimize that sogginess. So sometimes, instead of trying to prevent a perceived weakness from occurring, it’s good (and so much easier!) to GO with it, and turn that weakness into a strength.
It’s kind of like telling a prospective employer in an interview that one of your weaknesses is that you work too hard, even though the long working hours have played havoc with your family life and health.
Or like taking up cycling or swimming because your knees are sending out messages of pain when you run.
And let’s face it; cooked eggplants want to be mushy. It’s their nature. They can’t help it. So making soup with them is a perfect way to play to their strengths. They need to be in soups. Eggplants can make soups velvety in texture, and add a complexity of flavor without dominating the soup.
So while I admit it’s true that I don’t love eggplant, you’d be right in thinking that I love eggplant soup. And this recipe is my favorite.
Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Soup
- The above photo notwithstanding, I prefer to roast eggplants for this soup whole, not sliced in half. Slicing them in half will speed up the roasting time, but will form a slightly hard surface on the cut edge that you can see in the photo. This part of the eggplant will mostly likely need to be throw away. Therefore, roasting eggplants whole allows for more meat of the vegetable to be used in the soup.
- But if you’re in a hurry, and slice the eggplants in half for roasting, lightly oil the cut surface and roast with the cut side facing down on the baking sheet.
- 2 medium-large eggplants
- 1 medium tomato
- 3 cups yellow onions, chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon mixed fresh herbs, such as oregano and thyme
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne powder
- ½ to 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
- 3 cups vegetable stock
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 400° F. Score the eggplants and place on a baking sheet.
- Slice the tomato in half and place on the baking sheet, with the cut side facing up. Since juices may be released from the tomato during roasting, it’s best to separate it from the eggplant by forming a small “tray” with foil on the baking sheet, or place them in a smaller baking pan that can be place on the baking sheet.
- Roast both the tomato and eggplants until the skin begins to peel away from the tomato, about 20 minutes. Remove the tomato and let cool. Return the eggplants to the oven.
- Continue to roast the eggplants until they’re soft and feel hollow when pressed, about 1 hour. Once soft, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool until they can be comfortably handled.
- Melt the butter and add the olive oil to a pot over medium heat, that is large enough to make the entire soup recipe in. Add the chopped onions and sauté until soft and begin to brown. Add the garlic, mixed herbs, cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper. Cook for 1 – 2 minutes to mingle the flavors, until the herbs and spices are fragrant.
- Peel the eggplant, squeezing out as much juice as possible. Remove any large clumps of seeds and coarsely chop. It’s fine to leave some of the seeds behind, but some eggplant will have large clusters of seeds that can contribute bitterness to the flavor. You should have approximately 3 cups of chopped eggplant. Add to the onion mixture in the pot.
- Slide the peel from the roasted tomato and coarsely chop up. Add the chopped tomato and juices to the soup.
- Add 2 cups of the broth and the balsamic vinegar. Stir well and cook for 5 minutes.
- Puree the mixture in a blender, food processor or food mill. Return to the saucepan and add additional chicken broth as needed to get the consistency you prefer.
- Adjust for seasoning with salt, pepper and for acid with a squeeze of lemon.
- Freshly baked, unsliced bread (I used ciabatta bread)
- Olive Oil
- Parmesan cheese, grated
- Preheat the oven to 400° F. Slice the bread on the diagonal to a thickness of 1 1/2″ – 2″ thick.
- Brush with olive oil.
- Sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese.
- Bake in the oven until the bread is slightly crisp and the cheese is melted.