Whew. Now that I’ve gotten the background information out of the way, I’m excited to be able to focus on things that are more fun. Hey, at least I didn’t start the other posts with “I was born on a cold day in February.” Question: what could possibly be a more interesting subject than Sweetie Pie’s life story? Answer: Soup.
I grew up close to my grandparents and their beautiful garden. Every summer, my grandmother, mother and I would can green beans and tomatoes, make pickles and get other things (like Silver Queen corn… my fave) ready to go in the freezer. I don’t know a lot of people who can things anymore, but the garden was always abundant and canning things worked quite well. Now that I’m a city girl living in an apartment with a few potted herbs on the balcony, I have a greater appreciation for that garden. I dream of having my own some day.
As an easy way to use the vegetables, my grandmother would often make soup. This was soup making at its finest. There was no recipe. There was no stress over whether there was enough thyme lurking in the cabinet. Somehow, this soup always turned out good no matter what. It usually involved ground beef, cabbage, tomatoes and whatever else the garden had provided in surplus. The soup itself was probably pretty healthy. Unfortunately, I usually had too much cornbread and cheese alongside my bowl of healthy soup.
I always loved that soup, and I often recreate it. I think that knowing how to make soup out of whatever happens to be lying around is one of the most useful cooking skills that was passed down to me. Soups are a great way for me to add extra veggies to my diet, and they really fill me up. It is also a money saver because cleaning out the veggie drawer and turning the random bits into soup has certainly saved countless carrots, cabbages and green beans from finding their way down the trash chute. I’m rarely unhappy to find myself with a big pot of soupy goodness, since it usually seems to get better with time or with a little vacation in the freezer. Since I live alone, I have to eat it all, but that’s fine with me!
Yesterday, I was cleaning my apartment, and I decided to make a pot of soup with an eggplant that was just sitting around waiting to be transformed. I have gotten in the habit of writing down recipes that I come up with, so I consulted my trusty notebook for my roasted eggplant and tomato soup concoction. I thought I’d share it with you. This is the perfect soup to make if you are puttering around the house or occupied with cleaning and that sort of thing because there is very little preparation at the beginning, and there are long bits of time where you put the ingredients in the oven or in a pot and then ignore them. There is also very little chopping involved so it is perfect if chopping isn’t your thing. Here’s my recipe:
Cleaning Up the Apartment Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Soup
1 medium eggplant
1 medium sized onion, peeled and quartered
6 cloves of garlic in their skins
4 Cups of fat free chicken broth or vegetable broth
28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
3 tsp. thyme
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Pierce the eggplant 4-5 times with a fork and place it on the baking sheet. Place the quartered onion on the baking sheet and spray the onion with cooking spray. Tear off a small square of aluminum foil and place the garlic cloves, still in their skins, in the middle of the foil. Spray the garlic with cooking spray and then seal tightly inside the aluminum foil. Place the aluminum foil packet on the baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the oven and roast the eggplant and onion for 45 minutes. Set the timer and remove the garlic after 30 minutes.
In a large pot, combine the crushed tomatoes, broth, thyme and vinegar. Start heating the ingredients while you remove the flesh from the inside of the eggplant (just make a slit in the side and you should be able to remove the peel easily with your fingers) and peel the garlic cloves. Add the eggplant, garlic and onion to the pot. There is no need to chop them as they are going to be pureed eventually anyway. You may add salt and pepper at this point, but you will probably want to give it a taste and adjust the seasonings later so don’t go overboard. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce it to a simmer. Simmer on low for 45 minutes. Puree the soup in batches and pour into a large bowl. Once you have pureed all of the vegetables, add the soup back to the pot and bring to a boil once again. Boil for one minute and then remove from the heat. At this point, give it a taste and adjust the salt and pepper to your liking.
This makes 8 servings. Unofficial ww points: 0
I added thyme the first time I made this because, taking a page from my grandmother, I had a ton out on the balcony in my little garden, but basil would be yummy too. I made it once with a can of Ro-tel and a can of diced tomatoes in place of the crushed tomatoes because that was what I had in the pantry. I’m sure you get the idea. It is also good to know that you can let the veggies cool after you roast them or turn the pot off and let the soup sit before you puree it if you find yourself occupied with reorganizing your sock drawer.
If you worry that you will tire of a big pot of soup, just remember that you can always add things to it. I had some leftover roasted broccoli in the fridge, and I added that and a couple of teaspoons of reduced fat parmesan to my bowl this evening. The last time I made it, I added an Italian turkey sausage that I had removed from the casing and browned in the pan. That’s one of my favorite additions. I had some at lunch today along with tuna salad, a corn vita top, and a piece of light string cheese. Yes, I’ve updated my old favorites with some healthier versions. Yay!! The soup filled me up without making a dent in my daily calorie budget, and it was nice to have something warm and comforting to combat the chilly weather outside. We didn’t have a snowy Saturday as I had hoped, but it is certainly cold enough!! It will be interesting to see what the weather is like on Inauguration Day! I hope that, wherever you are, you are warm and cozy. If you aren’t, perhaps a bowl of soup would do the trick.