Caponata Soup

Aired November 26, 2010

Serves Serves 4
1 medium eggplant
EVOO - Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for brushing, plus 2 tablespoons
Salt and pepper
2 ribs celery with leafy tops, very thinly sliced on an angle
1 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced on an angle
2 medium onions, red or yellow, peeled, root end attached and sliced into very thin wedges
2 large fresh bay leaves
1 large, red, mild frying or bell pepper, quartered lengthwise, seeded and very thinly sliced
1 chili pepperor Italian cherry or Fresno, seeded and finely chopped
4 large cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 sprig fresh oregano, finely chopped or 1 teaspoon dried
1 28-32 ounce can Italian tomatoes or 3-4 large fresh ripe tomatoes, peeled and sliced
1 quart chicken stock, plus 1-2 cups water
A few leaves of torn basil and flat-leaf parsley tops

Heat oven to 450F. Arrange a cooling rack over a baking sheet. Thinly slice eggplant into slices about 1/4 inch thick. Brush eggplant slices with EVOO on both sides then season with salt and pepper and roast until browned and tender, 15-18 minutes. Remove and cool, quarter the discs of sliced, roasted eggplant.

Meanwhile, heat about 2 tablespoons EVOO, a couple of turns of the pan, in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add celery, carrots, onions, bay, peppers, chili pepper, garlic, thyme, oregano and season with salt and pepper; saut until tender, stirring occasionally, 10-12 minutes. Add tomatoes, slice them up as you drop them into pot, add juice of tomatoes and stock, 1 cup water for thick soup and 2 for thinner soup. Simmer soup at low boil until tomatoes break down and soup develops its flavors, 15-20 minutes. Stir in roasted eggplant and some torn basil, serve in shallow bowls garnished with parsley leaves.

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