Earlier this week Ankur and I sat at the kitchen table watching Kishmish, long past her bedtime, eat the following: 2 hard-boiled eggs, 1 sliced cucumber, 1 cup of yogurt, a few rice cakes, and apple. . .and I think there were some other things. It was after 10 pm, and I was nodding off towards the end of the feeding frenzy.
Later, after the very hungry
caterpillar child settled into a food coma and finally gave us some peace, Ankur speculated that maybe, just maybe, she is going through some kind of insane growth spurt. Like maybe all of these stomach troubles and complaints of exhaustion are a result not of an infection or a weird allergy. . . but of insatiable hunger! A growth spurt! We decided it might be better to send more snacky, high-calorie things in the girls’ lunches, to encourage them to eat better and keep their energy up. Ankur suggested Snickers bars. I started poking around online — graham crackers? Lara bars? “Look,” my husband said, “Just keep in mind that it should be something they want to eat. . . not you.”
Ouch! Am I really that bad?
Well. . . there’s this soup. The idea for this soup came from a request the girls had: they wanted to take soup for school lunch — tomato soup! I got to work making something that was supposed to be more complex and interesting that tomato soup from a box/can. Something that would use real ingredients and that we’d make from scratch with less sugar and salf and more love than those old store-bought soups. Something that, ultimately, the girls didn’t like very much and didn’t really bother to eat at lunch time.
Oh well, I liked the soup, and I think it works great as a breakfast/brunch treat, too. If you like eggplant, you’ll enjoy the way it makes the soup a little heartier and a little less tomato-y. I also like the flavor you get from roasting the eggplant in the oven. The major problem is that the tomatoes are a real wild-card in this soup. If your tomatoes are bland, you’re going to need to add crushed tomatoes to rescue things.
As for the lunch boxes. . . for now, we compromised on a few snack-size Kit Kats and a Lara bar in the girls’ lunch boxes — in addition to their standard far — and that seems to have helped with the late-night binging.
Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Soup
This recipe is very tenuously inspired by a soup my mom ordered and I tasted when we were eating once at Five Loaves in Mt. Pleasant, SC. I think their soup was more eggplant, less tomato, and lots of blue cheese. Anyway, something about that soup inspired me a little, so there you go.
- 1 medium eggplant
- 5 or so small tomatoes, like roma tomatoes
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4-5 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes (in case you need them.
Slice the eggplant into large pieces, sprinkle with salt, and allow it to sit for 15-20 minutes while your oven preheats to 400. Then rinse off the salt, and place the eggplant in a baking dish with the olive oil. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until soft and done, but not too brown.
Blister the tomatoes over a flame. I like to pierce the skin a few times, place them over a gas flame, and let them get nice and black. This is a good way make their skins easy to remove. Cool, peel, and chop the tomatoes.
The eggplant will be about ready by now. Remove the baking pan from the oven, pour some of the oil into a big soup pot, and place all the rest of the eggplant into the blender. Let it cool while you get the tomato part started.
Add the crushed garlic to the oil in the soup pot, and cook over a low flame to brown the garlic just a little. Add the chopped tomatoes, and simmer them until they get nice and soft.
Take the cooked, soft tomatoes and add them to the blender with the eggplant. (This is the point where I wished I had an immersion blender; it would make this whole ordeal much easier.) Blend until very smooth. There are eggplant skins in there, so this will take longer than you might think.
Pour the contents of the blender back into the soup pot, and add the vegetable stock. At this point, you can also add salt and pepper to taste.
At this point, you may also notice that those tomatoes you used had no flavor. This totally happened to me. I took some canned crushed tomatoes, blended them a little, and added to the soup. It worked out nicely.
We’ve had this soup several times over the past few weeks — plain, with croutons, with blue cheese crumbles, or with a little olive tapenade on top. I’ll say this — it’s a little too much to eat without at least one of those garnishes.