This Roasted Red Pepper and Eggplant Soup recipe comes from Epicurious.com. It's meat-free and healthy.
I omitted the butter and the soup turned out just fine. To make it a meal, I added a package of whole wheat cheese tortellini for some protein.
The only inconvenience in making this soup was the prep work involved roasting eggplants, which takes 45 minutes, and char-grilling and peeling red peppers... I suck at peeling those peppers.
To roast and peel red peppers, you are supposed to char them over a gas burner, then place them in a brown bag for 10 minutes to steam, which causes the skin come right off. That didn't work so well for me ... by the time I was finished, I had little black pieces of charred pepper under every fingernail from picking off the skin bit by bit. Awesome.
I guess I'll try charring my peppers so they are completely black next time I read online that you gotta get them really charred and then place them on a cutting board with a glass bowl inverted over them for a few minutes. If you want to avoid roasting your own peppers, you can always buy them jarred at the grocery store (they're not cheap though).
Despite the pepper incident, I'd definitely make this soup again. It's creamy, slightly sweet, nutty, and with the tortellini, it's a perfect lunch or light dinner.
Roasted Red Pepper and Eggplant Soup
Adapted from Epicurious.com
Yield: Makes 8 servings (I was able to half the recipe easily to make just 4 servings)
2 eggplants (about 2 1/2 pounds total), halved
4 red bell peppers (about 22 ounces)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 medium leek, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise (white and pale green parts only; about 2 cups)
6 large garlic cloves, minced
8 1/2 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
3 tablespoons unsalted butter (I omitted the butter)
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Parmesan cheese shavings
1 package cheese tortellini, cooked (optional)
Preheat oven to 450°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Pierce eggplants all over with fork. Transfer, cut side down, to baking sheet. Roast until tender, about 45 minutes. Cool slightly. Remove peel and discard. Cut eggplants into large pieces. Rinse eggplant pieces under running water. Drain well. Set aside.
Char bell peppers over gas flame or in broiler until blackened on all sides. Enclose in paper bag 10 minutes. Peel, seed and coarsely chop peppers.
Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and leek and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Stir in eggplant, peppers, chicken stock, and tomato paste. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered until vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes. Stir in basil and thyme. Cool slightly.
Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth. Return soup to pot. Season with salt and pepper. Add butter and lemon juice; stir over low heat until soup is heated through, about 5 minutes. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to simmer before continuing.) Transfer to large bowl; garnish with Parmesan.
If using tortellini, add a few to each bowl and pour the soup over the pasta so you can control how many tortellini go in each.
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