This can be one of the best, or one of the blandest, of all comforting winter soups. In this recipe, tomatoes are first baked in the oven to bring out more flavor than they normally have at this time of year. The addition of eggplant adds depth and texture.
Sourdough or Parmesan croutons go well with this soup; see Andreas Viestad's variations here.
Servings: 4 - 6
- 1 medium (1 pound) eggplant
- Olive oil, for brushing
- 2 pounds cherry tomatoes (may substitute two 16-ounce cans of tomatoes, preferably cherry tomatoes)
- 1 medium onion, chopped (1 cup)
- 2 medium cloves garlic
- 1 rib celery, stringed then cut into 1-inch pieces
- 3 to 4 cups low-sodium beef or chicken broth, heated to boiling
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- A few oregano or basil leaves, minced, for garnish
- Croutons, for garnish (see headnote)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Have a large baking dish at hand, large enough to lay the slices of eggplant in a single layer.
Peel the eggplant and cut crosswise into 2/3-inch-thick slices. Brush both sides with a little oil and place in the baking dish. Roast for 15 minutes until golden and starting to collapse. Add the tomatoes, onion, garlic and celery (on top of the eggplant is okay); roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until the vegetables are soft and browned.
Working in two or three batches, transfer to a blender or to the bowl of a food processor. Add the equal amounts of the hot broth and a little of the cream (to taste) and Parmesan cheese with each batch. Puree until smooth. (If using a blender, remove the center knob of the lid and place a dish towel over the opening. This will allow steam to escape and and prevent hot liquids from exiting.) Season with salt to taste.
Divide among individual bowls. Sprinkle with oregano or basil and the croutons; serve hot.
From Gastronomer Andreas Viestad.
Tested by Amanda Erickson.
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