Ok, yes, I love soup. I especially love soup for lunch. There's just so much you can do with the formula of soup, and the leftovers are usually even better than a fresh batch. However, I am a little picky. When I think of soup, I usually am craving some kind of vegetable puree with lots of flavor, preferably complex. I don't much like meat or excessive amounts of cream in my soup, though I'm willing to try almost anything. But as I've said before, I love pureeing soup with my new immersion blender. It's more fun than, say, planning a wedding or doing laundry. Definitely more fun than laundry. So, even if you are sick of hearing me talk about soup, I'm not sick of eating it. And you should definitely try this one. It's perfect for a cold winter's day. It might even be good served cold in the summer, as it's very gazpacho-like.
Roasted Red Pepper and Eggplant Soup
Slightly tweaked from Bon Appetit, March 2001 via Epicurious
This soup is delicious and complex in flavors. It's also pleasantly spicy, but still has a rich and savory flavor. It's a bit labor intensive, so I wasn't initially sure if I wanted to share it with you, but this soup is so wonderfully delicious that I couldn't resist. Just block out a decent amount of time to complete the recipe. After the vegetable roasting, things move on pretty quickly.
1 eggplant, halved
2 red bell peppers
1/8 cup olive oil, plus more for brushing on eggplant
2 small onions, chopped
1 small leek, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced into half moon shapes (white and pale green parts only)
3 large garlic cloves, minced
4 1/4 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth (or vegetable broth, naturally)
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons dried basil
lots of salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2-3 tablespoons parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 450°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Pierce eggplants all over with a fork. Brush the eggplant halves with olive oil and sprinkle salt all over. Place the eggplant cut side down on the baking sheet and roast until tender, about 45 minutes. You could chop and prepare the other vegetables during this time.
When the eggplant is softened and slightly browned, remove from the oven and allow to cool. Remove the peel and discard. This will be easy. Cut eggplants into large pieces. Rinse the eggplant pieces under running water. Drain well and set aside. The roasting, rinsing and draining will remove much of the bitterness found in full-sized eggplants.
Char the bell peppers, whole, in a broiler until blackened on all sides. This may take some patience. Enclose in paper bag 10 minutes. Peel, seed and coarsely chop peppers.
Heat 1/8 cup of olive oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and leek, season to taste with salt and pepper. Sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté 1 minute. Stir in eggplant, peppers, chicken stock, and tomato paste and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered until vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes. Stir in basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper once again.
Turn off the heat and allow to cool a bit, so you aren't splashed with scalding hot liquid. Place your immersion blender inside the mixture and then turn it on, moving it around slowly, though the blender will do most of the work. When you are satisfied with the puree, turn off the immersion blender and then remove it from the soup. Unplug and set aside.
Alternately, turn off the heat and allow to cool even more, then transfer the soup in batches to a blender or food processor. Be sure not to fill the blender or food processor too much, as hot liquid expands.
After the blending, stir the soup, then add butter and lemon juice; stir over low heat until soup is heated through, about 5 minutes. Add Parmesan all at once and stir. The soup is ready to serve, or pack some for lunch, like me.