Saturday, September 24, 2011

Ratatoulle Soup: Comfort Food on a Dreary Day

What to do with a harvest load of tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, and sweet peppers? Something warm and comforting? Ratatouille soup is one scrumptious and easy way to go. Basically, roast the dickens out of those veggies, then boil and later puree the bejesus out of them—a rich, irresistible soup will fill your bowls with Mediterranean sunshine and cheer. Serve with toasted cheese bread, or heck, any hearty bread at all. No need for a salad--you're eating it already.

1/2 eggplant
3 pounds tomatoes, plum, roma, paste, or whatever you have on hand
1 small zucchini
1 pound sweet peppers
3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups diced onions
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter
1 quart chicken broth
Handfuls of fresh basil and oregano, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. Cut eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, and sweet peppers in 1-inch chunks, removing ends and trimming seeds, as needed. Spread on a lightly sprayed baking sheet. Drizzle generously with olive oil. Roast for 40 to 45 minutes, stirring halfway through, to cook evenly.

While the veggies are roasting, dice the onions. Add to a heavy soup pot and saute the onions with butter and garlic until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add soup stock, herbs, and the roasted veggies (as well as the yummy veggie liquid on the baking sheet!). Boil uncovered for 40 minutes. Puree in  batches in a blender or use an immersion blender. Soup will be thick and imperfectly textured but perfectly delicious (if you prefer a smoother soup, push through a wire strainer before serving). Add salt and pepper to taste. Any leftovers after two days can be frozen easily. Reuse as pasta sauce, if desired.

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