The days are turning cooler, the nights could be described as downright chilly. September in New England means the juxtaposition of summer and fall. Inside, in my kitchen, sits a huge bowl full of the harvest from this year's garden patch. The patch is still producing, and will do so until that first frost hits. However, outside the back door of the kitchen, it was chilly yesterday morning, forcing me to close all the windows on the inside, looking out.
Fall is my favorite season, although I'm sad to say goodbye to the summer months. This soup bridges the gap between summer and fall quite nicely. It will use up some of the odds and ends you have sitting around and take Fall's first chill off.
This soup was inspired by Martha Stewart's Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup . However, her version steers off towards curry and spice, mine was put together with pure Italian in mind.
Italian Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup (or Eggplant Parmesan Soup)
1 eggplant, cut into halves, half chopped into large chunks, the other chopped into bite-size chunks
3-4 beefsteak or heirloom tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped in half
10-15 cherry tomatoes, halved
3/4 red onion, chopped, divided
6 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
red pepper flakes, pinch
salt (I used a pretty hefty sea salt, kosher probably would be ok too)
1/4 cup fresh basil and oregano, chopped
1 cup chicken broth
day-old bread (any amount will do, a sub roll, couple of sliced bread, leftover Italian or French bread.)
red pepper flakes
Set over to 425 degrees. In one large bowl, combine all tomatoes (cherry and otherwise), the large chunks of eggplant, garlic cloves and half of the onion. Add half of the olive oil (1 tablespoon), and salt and pepper to taste. Toss everything in the bowl to coat. Spread out over a baking sheet coated with a bit of olive oil or cooking spray.
In the bowl you just used, dump in the bite-sized pieces of eggplant and the rest of the onion. Add other half of olive oil (another 1 tablespoon), salt and pepper and toss to coat. Spread this mixture out onto another coated baking sheet.
Put both baking sheets in the oven, roasting for about 35 minutes, stirring once halfway.
Take the roasted tomato mixture and put into a blender, add fresh basil and oregano and puree. Transfer to a saucepan or dutch oven and add roasted eggplant/onion mixture. Add pinch of red pepper flakes. Thin with 1 cup of chicken broth, salt and pepper to taste. Warm over medium heat.
While the soup is warming on the stove. Take bread, chop into crouton-sized pieces, and toss with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper, a pinch of red pepper flakes and Parmesan cheese. Spread out over a baking sheet, and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve soup with croutons and a touch more fresh basil and oregano as garnish. Grate fresh Parmesan cheese over the top and serve.
Serves 3-4. This is a small serving soup. Feel free to double, triple, whatever you need to do to feed your guests.