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

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Wine Glass Snobbery


Ever since that mind-blowing day when I went to a wine seminar put on by Riedel, I’ve been a wine glass snob.

I’ll never forget that moment when I first tasted a pinot noir in the proper drinking vessel. I’ve never been a pinot noir fan, finding it lackluster and tasteless. And then, there we were….on a cruise ship and in the midst of our second (or fourth or fifth) glass of wine…when I tasted it. A pinot noir in a pinot noir shaped glass.

“AHA!” I exclaimed. My taste buds gloried in the new-found deliciousness of this varietal. The Sommelier and servers sniggered across from me. I’ll admit, the seminar conflicted with lunch and I was well on my way to Drunk Stephanie. My eyes were glittering with joy and I was, shall we say, quite happy. But NONE of this distracts from the eureka moment I experienced.

Ever since then, I’ve been a tad specific about how my wine is served to me. Yes, I’m likely to travel with my own wine glasses and I’m completely comfortable with flirting my way into real wine glasses from a hotel bar when I haven’t brought my own along.

Which brings me to my stemless rant. Stemless wine glasses are for boats. Riedel made them publicly popular when they designed them for stocking on yachts and such. Easier to store and clean, but still providing distinguished palettes with the correctly shaped glass for their wine. BUT without the stem, your hand warms the wine. I’ve been thoroughly irritated by the increasing trendy movement of using them everywhere else.

The thing is, not having traveled by yacht, I hadn’t yet experienced a stemless wine glass.

And then I went on a mud run at a winery. You may remember, I blogged about it earlier. And they gave me a stemless wine glass. So, when we brought a bottle of their Dry Blueberry Wine home with us, I found it only fitting to drink it in their glass.

I. Love. This. Glass.

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It fits so perfectly in my hand. It just feels right. The curve caresses the inner flesh of my fingers and palms. While a bit small for a vigorous swirl, there’s still enough space to mindlessly move my hand in circles.

And now I get it. Why wine peoples the world over are sacrificing a stem. There’s just something special about the way this feels. I was wrong, they were right. Consider me a convert.

I Run Because I Eat & Drink


I love to eat, drink and travel. But, let’s face it – if I’m going to be fit enough to continue eating, drinking and traveling – I need exercise. I’m an “all in” kind of gal with an adventurous spirit, so how better to seek fitness than with a mud run obstacle course at….wait for it….a winery! Especially when there’s free food AND wine after?

Color me sold. I mean really, what’s not to love about this concept? And thus begins my Blueberry Stomp Mud Run adventure.

Bright and not-so-early, I begin my 9 am heat down the 3 mile obstacle course at the Keel & Curley Winery. This was my very first mud run and I really had no idea what to expect. Please understand, I only run to eat. Every step I take, I know it’s an extra bite of something scrumptious or another sip of wine without adding pounds. I’m not terribly fast, but I am quite determined. Once I start, I keep my pace and don’t quit until I achieve my mileage goal. But I digress.

Launching through mud pits, ditches, wobbly bridges and piles of cedar chips the race began. It all felt fairly tame until I met the blueberry pit shortly before the midway point. I actually came to a full stop. I stared. My husband, trailing behind me passed me up. As he cannonballs into the icy blueberry filled water I decide to throw all caution to the wind and go for it! The result?

Queen of the Blueberry Pit!

Queen of the Blueberry Pit!

Afterwards, I was fearless. I climbed mounds of dirt, to jump into 3 foot deep mud pits. I passed my husband. (I’ll be damned if I let him beat me across the finish line. I’m competitive!) In the end, I finished in 30 minutes and 19 seconds. Not too shabby if I do say so myself.

After a rinse attempt, I sopped into the tasting room to settle in for my free post-run wine. Although not a huge fan of blueberries OR sweet wines I found myself quite pleasantly surprised by the dry blueberry wine. Happy enough that we brought a bottle home to enjoy later!

We wandered outside, purchased some pulled pork from a food truck, pulled up a chair and spent several hours chatting, eating, enjoying the wine and the fantastic live music. All in all, a wonderful morning, well spent. I’m even moderately certain I burned off at least half the delicious food and wine….well maybe less, but well worth it.