You say Tomato
It’s August. Beautiful, sunny August and everyone is out playing except for me because I am the single person who manages to get sick as a dog in the middle of summer. Sinus infections seem to be my bane the past year. My nose starts to get stuffy and then a few days later I’ll have a splitting headache behind my eyes and in the front of my head. Next I get double ear infections and if I have to wait long enough for antibiotics my eyes get infected too. It’s kind of a zombie-fication of me over the course of a week and it’s disgusting.
Now that you are in the mood to eat (mmmmmm brains) I will say that I hopped on the antibiotic train early enough this time to avoid double ear/eye infections. My head is still pounding and my nose is still playing havoc with my ability to taste and smell but aside from that I am recovering. Thankfully I accidentally wound up with a double delivery from my CSA the other week and had waaaaay to many tomatoes to use in a normal two week period. So I did what any sane rational person would do at the end of July in 101 degree weather – I made soup!
I’m really glad I did too because I needed it this week. Gotta say this is one of the cleverest ways I’ve used food from my CSA box. Why? I discovered a tasty, non-fat and [vegan]ish way to make the best out of tomato soup. Now I’m not a vegan, as I alluded to in my steak post, vegan just isn’t my thing. However I’m always looking to maximize the reach of my recipes and aside from some optional melted mozzarella at the end, this soup recipe is as creamy as possible without any cream. Plus it has the added benefit of being low-fat/fat-free so it’s great for dieters too. Oh and this is entirely my own recipe concocted in my kitchen Iron Chef style with only the food given to me by my CSA. It’s frakking fantastic and I’m quite proud. If you want something tasty, and good for clearing the olfactory passages, to serve with it try some jalepeno corn bread!
- 1 very large eggplant
- 5 medium red peppers
- 10 ripe, firm tomatoes, peeled and seeded
- 5 cloves roasted garlic
- 1 small chopped sweet onion
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 1 small can (I think it was 8oz) tomato paste
- 8 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups red wine (I used 2002 Bordeaux that tasted a wee bit past its prime for drinking)
- 1 tsp salt / 1 tsp pepper (and then to taste from there)
- 2 Tbsp dried Oregano
- pinch of cayenne
While I prepped my potatoes I roasted the eggplant and red bell pepper. I always have roasted garlic on hand now but if you don’t, roast your garlic at this point too. The oven should go up to about 450F and you wanna roast all the goodies for a good hour. The eggplant should be pricked several times with a fork, the bell-peppers lightly coated with some olive oil and roasted garlic…ah roasted garlic. First you chop off the top of a head of garlic so each clove is slightly exposed. Wrap the whole head in aluminum leaving the top exposed, drizzle over some olive oil and then close the package. These will all roast nicely.
After the roasty foods have cooled you’ll wanna slice, peel, remove the seeds and in the case of the garlic, finely chop them up. Pour enough oil in the bottom of a large saucepan to cover it and then over medium-high heat, sweat the onion, garlic and carrots. Cook them about 7 minutes then add in the tomato paste and the wine. Bring to a high heat until boils then reduce back down to medium. I let this simmer for about 8 minutes to reduce the wine a bit and get some sweetness from it. Now add in the chopped tomatoes and vegetable broth. Bring that to a boil then reduce and cook for about 2o minutes.
After simmering for 20 minutes add in the eggplant, roasted bell pepper, oregano, cayenne, salt and pepper. Let this go for another 10-15 minutes and then remove from the heat to puree the veggies. The eggplant is what thickens up the soup. It adds a mild flavor, like a back up singer, and purees very nicely. I’d done this in the past with carrots and celery but the eggplant is MUCH less fibrous. It works so perfectly. The soup had an almost unnoticeable texture difference between those thickened with cream and flour. Be careful not to burn yourself when you puree by the way. If you are doing it in a blender I recommend letting it cool to warm or else use a hand blender/food processor and do it in batches. Taste the soup and salt/pepper it to your heart’s content.
Optional: I served mine with a slice of fried eggplant on top and melted fresh mozzarella on top. Kind of like french onion soup only less onion-y. I still think french onion is the best soup on the planet when it comes to cheese but this was a pretty damn close second. Plus it’s a little bit like pizza! As I said earlier, serve it up with some jalepeno cornbread and you’ll have one perfect meal.