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I love this delectable soup, which is full of the deep flavors of roasted eggplant and sweet peppers. It’s also a great example of three-way cooking – a single dish you can easily modify to make something that works for any menu. The option to finish thickening the soup with oil rather than with butter or a butter-based roux is key to its versatility. I offer this with fricos – quickly prepared cheese wafers – but you can garnish it with grated parmesan and fresh ricotta instead.
Convert It – To make this into a meat dish, substitute chicken stock for the vegetable stock and drizzle each serving with Balsamic Gastrique.* For a parve version, substitute extra-virgin olive oil for the butter and finish with drops of balsamic vinegar, Balsamic Gastrique or basil leaves.
Geila’s Tip – You can make the fricos ahead of time and store them in an airtight container. They’re also delicious served with drinks.
- 4 medium to large eggplants (4 to 5 pounds)
- 6 medium red, yellow or orange bell peppers
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil
- 2 large onions, coarsely chopped
- 4 to 6 large garlic cloves, to taste, minced
- one 2-ounce can tomato paste
- 3 quarts vegetable stock
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 or 4 basil leaves
- 1 cup shreded Parmesan, Cheddar, Swish or other hard cheese
- 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne peppers, or to taste
- Preheat the oven to 425 F. Line 1 or 2 medium cookie sheets, depending on eggplant size, with foil and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray or grease lightly with vegetable oil.
- Remove any stems from the eggplant and halve them lengthwise. With a fork, prick the skin-side of the eggplant all over. Sprinkle the cut sides with salt, place the eggplants skin-side up on the sheet, and bake until wrinkled and soft, about 40 minutes. Let cool slightly then remove the skin and seeds with your fingers. (If removing the seeds is difficult, work them out under cold running water). Chop the eggplant into large chunks.
- On a burner or under the broiler, roast the peppers until the skin is uniformly charred. Transfer to to a paper bagor a bowl. Close the bag or cover the bowl with foil, a dish towel or plastic wrap. Let the peppers steam until they become cool enough to handle. Remove the stems, peel and seeds and cut the peppers into 1 to 1 1/2 inch dice. Reserve any juice.
- In a heavy soup pot, heat the butter and oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté just until translucent, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté 1 to 2 minutes more. Stir the peppers, eggplant, tomato paste, and stock. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 1 hour.
- Using a hand blender (or carefully transferring to a stand blender or food processor in batches), purée the soup. If too thick add more stock.
- To make the fricos, combine the ingredients in a small bowl and mix lightly until blended. Transfer to a colander and shake to remove excess flour and any small bits of cheese.
- Heat a medium non-stick skillet or griddle over medium heat. Add a small handful of the frico mixture. Spread with your fingers to make a 3 inch round. When the cheese has melted and the edges of the frico are slightly colored, turn carefully with a spatula and cook until the bottom is colored, abou 30 seconds. Remove and drape the frico, colored side up. over a rolling pin. Let cool aand firm. Rep[eat with the remaining mixture.
- Season the soup with salt and pepper, transfer to serving bowls and garnish with the basil. Serve with the fricos.
* Balsamic Gastrique (page 26)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
in a small glass bowl, combine the sugar and vinegar. Microwave at full power for 30 seconds, or until the liquid has boiled and becomes syrupy. Alternatively, combine the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes. Let cool.