Since it’s cooling down in some places (certainly not in Los Angeles!), here’s one for a crisp afternoon or cold evening – using the end of summer eggplants from your local farmers market.
Spiced Roasted Eggplant Tomato Soup with Fresh Goat Cheese
Yield: 8 servings
1 large Italian eggplant, peeled and diced medium (approximately 7 to 8 cups)
7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
2 large yellow onions, peeled and diced small (3 cups)
6 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped roughly (2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
¾ teaspoon garam masala
⅛ teaspoon crushed red chile pepper (chile flakes), or to taste
1 dried bay leaf
1 teaspoon ground paprika
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained, preferably fire-roasted
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
Fresh Goat Cheese/Chevre, for serving
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, then preheat the oven to 450ºF.
In a large bowl, toss the eggplant with 3 tablespoons olive oil, and season well with some salt and pepper.
Lay the eggplants in a single layer on two sheet pans lined with parchment paper. Place into the oven, and roast, uncovered, until lightly colored, approximately 30 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes.
Add 4 tablespoons olive oil and the onions to a small pot over medium heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent.
Stir in the garlic, thyme, garam masala, chile flakes, bay leaf, and paprika, and cook until fragrant, 1 minute
Pour in the tomatoes and stock and add the salt and pepper.
Turn the heat to high, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
Check the eggplants; if they are lightly colored, remove them from the oven.
Add the eggplants and the stock to the tomato mixture and stir. Increase the heat to high and bring to a simmer.
Remove from the heat and discard the bay leaf.
Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth.
Add lemon juice, a healthy pinch of salt, and a few really good grinds of pepper. Blend once more. Taste and adjust seasoning once more with additional lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
Serve in soup bowls with a drizzle of olive oil, a little goat cheese, and a sprinkling of the chopped parsley and mint.