Cooking the Seasons: Roasted Eggplant Soup
Chef Anne shows you how to make the best use of produce from your local farmers markets.
Florida is a rather unique state when it comes to growing fruits and vegetables because it is usually on somewhat of a “reverse-cycle” to the rest of the country. When things thrive in the summer up north, our heat is too much for some. The same is true when the northern states are covered in snow and our growing season is at a peak.
Whenever you can get the freshest fruits and vegetables grown locally, they will not only taste better and have retained more of their nutrients, but they typically cost less than those shipped in from across the country.
We have many farmers markets here and each month brings the best of seasonal foods. January and February are great for cabbage, broccoli and brussels sprouts. Eggplant, bell (sweet) peppers and squash are also in season. As for fruits, it’s the citrus fruits and strawberries that are in season. A great chart produced by the Florida Department of Agriculture lists the growing seasons of some of the most popular produce. To view the chart, click here.
When I stopped by my local farmers’ market this week, I picked up some gorgeous eggplant. It was picture-perfect. I took it home and turned it into some delicious roasted eggplant soup. This is an easy recipe. You need about an hour and a half in cooking time, but the prep time is fast and easy. Try it this weekend after a trip to the Dunedin Green Market.
Roasted Eggplant Soup
- 3 medium tomatoes, halved
- 1 ½ pound eggplant, sliced lengthwise
- 1 small onion, halved
- 4 large whole garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped (may substitute 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
- 4 cups homemade chicken stock or low sodium store bought broth
- 1 cup heavy cream (optional)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Fresh parsley, chopped (for garnish)
Preheat oven to 400 F.
1. Place tomatoes, eggplant, onion and garlic on large baking sheet. Brush with oil. Place in oven for 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender and beginning to lightly brown. Remove from oven to cool.
2. Remove eggplant from flesh by scooping out with a spoon. Discard flesh. Place eggplant, tomatoes, onion, garlic and thyme into large stock pot.
3. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes or until all vegetables are soft.
4. If you have an immersion (stick) blender, use it to puree the soup. If not, place the soup, in batches, into a blender and puree. Return to stock pot.
5. Add cream to pot and bring heat back to a gentle simmer. (This soup is quite tasty without the cream if you prefer not to use it.) Season to taste with salt and pepper, ladle into bowls and top with some chopped parsley right before serving. Enjoy!