Roasted Eggplant and Garlic Soup


So here’s the thing about eggplant. I don’t really like it. I never have. But my mother seems to think the sun sets and rises on eggplant. As a result, I keep attempting to like eggplant and I keep failing miserably. There’s just something about the bland, jelly-like texture surrounded by chewy skin. And, at times, it’s bitter. I’ve never been a fan of anything prepared a la Parmigiana – which seems to be the main eggplant preparation commonly available. Double yuck.

Then there was that fateful day my mother decided to prepared Eggplant Enchiladas. Please understand, my mother is an excellent, quasi-gourmet cook. The magical things that have come out of her amazing kitchen never cease to delight the palette. This dish was not one of them. She spent an entire afternoon working on these horrid little things. I will never forget her proudly serving them to us, with a flourish she presented her new dish….and it fell on quite the deaf audience. We still tease her regularly about them. She liked them, but none of the rest of us did.

Here were are, some 15 to 20 years later, and I still challenge myself to find a way to like eggplant. It seems a way to connect to and bond with my mother. Not that I need it, we see each other almost daily and have plenty of other things between us. But, those eggplants have remained elusive and they arrive at my doorstep somewhat regularly due to our weekly veggie bag.

This time, though – I opted to make a roasted eggplant, vegetable and garlic soup and it turned out AMAZING! Finally! An eggplant dish I can welcome with open arms. This was based on the particular vegetables I had on hand and I’m quite certain the ratios of vegetables can be changed and substitutions easily made. This is my new, “throw everything in the pot” go to dish.

Ingredient List:

3 eggplants

2 tomatoes

1 red onion

1 red bell pepper

1 head of garlic

Extra virgin olive oil

Fresh thyme

Chicken stock

Goat cheese

First, roast the vegetables. Preheat the oven to 400 Fahrenheit. Halve the eggplants, quarter the tomatoes, red onion and red pepper. Arrange on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper. Feel free to season with your herbs of choice as well. The garlic requires a bit more prep work. Remove most of the outer skins and trim the tops of each clove, drizzle with olive oil and salt, wrap in aluminum foil, place on baking sheets. I used Simply Recipes to show me how to roast garlic. Bake for 35 – 45 minutes until all vegetables are tender.

Vegetables roasted, fresh from the oven!

Vegetables roasted, fresh from the oven!

Place thyme and vegetable broth in a big pot on the stove. I’d start with 6 cups, but you may need more depending on how many vegetables you have. Scoop the eggplant out of the skin, scoop the garlic cloves out of their skins and place all of the vegetables in the pot. Feel free to season with the herbs of your choice, but I recommend avoiding fresh fennel. This soup turned out so wonderfully, I decided to make a second batch and threw in some fresh fennel I had on hand. Big mistake. It was terrible. Trust me, don’t do this. Bring to a boil and then simmer, 45 – 60 minutes until all is tender.

Simmer me!

Simmer me!

Remove the thyme sprigs. Puree either by using an immersion blender or, in batches in a blender or food processor. Return to pan, warm through. At this point, I added a sploosh of dry red wine, because I am inherently incapable of not adding whatever wine I’m drinking to whatever food I’m cooking. I’ve seen others add cream or milk to these types of soups at this stage. I found mine was creamy and rich enough and didn’t add any. But if you like your soup a wee bit heavier, go for it.

Serve with goat cheese crumbles. This step is very important. Don’t skip it. 🙂

Roasted Eggplant & Garlic Soup

Advertisements

Cucumber Chips & Lettuce Soup


Cucumber Chips? Lettuce Soup?

None of these dishes would have been found in my home before I joined an organic veggie co-op. For $25 each week I receive a large bag of organic vegetables. The co-op works to buy fruits and vegetables that are seasonal and locally grown. What this means is that I can wind up with 8 cucumbers sitting in my fridge one week and another week be presented with a vegetable I’ve never laid eyes on before.

it’s challenged me to be a more creative and flexible with my meal planning. Some truly delicious creations have arisen from having far too much of one type of food at any given time.

Let’s begin with cucumbers. You see, I like cucumbers – but I don’t love them. This summer has seemingly been the Year of the Cucumber here in sunny Florida. First I made Sweet Chili Cucumber Pickles for our Memorial Day party. But that hardly made a dent in them. And let’s face it, one can only eat so many pickles before your tummy turns from all that vinegar. And so the search began, what else could I do with them? A brilliant moment with our dehydrator brought us Cucumber Chips: simply lay on your dehydrator, sprinkle with your seasoning of choice and dry overnight. Viola!

20131014_203923

Let me tell you these suckers pop down like potato chips. They’re fantastic and preserved. I don’t have to eat them all before they rot!

Then came the romaine lettuce. I had so much lettuce I knew I’d never finish it all in salad and sandwiches. A combination of several lettuce soup recipes online led to this amazing creation. Delicious, delicate and a tasty 90 calorie bowl. The nuts and bolts of this recipe comes down to sautéed onion and garlic, followed by 8 or 10 cups of romaine lettuce, some fresh parsley, chicken stock, evaporated milk and a good strong dose of coriander. It froze well and is even better leftover.

20131013_120620

Eating locally grown, seasonal fruits and vegetables has totally revolutionized the way I cook and eat. It’s unpredictable what we’ll find in our veggie bag from week to week, but my culinary skills are growing by leaps and bounds. Wonder what will be on my plate this week?

Ravine Vineyard

This gallery contains 6 photos.


While honeymooning in Niagara-on-the-Lake we made plans to visit Ravine Vineyard for a private, reserve tasting. Scheduled for 2pm, we arrived early and snuck in to their attached restaurant for lunch. Lacking a reservation with only an hour or so before our tour, they still cheerfully seated us in the waiting area and offered to […]