Friday, February 09, 2007

Roasted Eggplant and Orange Bell Pepper Soup

I still had an eggplant and some tomatoes that I bought to make the roasted eggplant soup, and I also had the beautiful roasted orange peppers that I needed to use up. I'm still trying to master the technique of roasting, so I decided to roast them and make another soup, adding the pepper to the pot.

For the other roasted eggplant soup, the recipe didn't specify how I should place the vegetables on the baking sheet to roast them. Normally, my instincts would have been to put them cut side down, but I decided to roast them cut side up instead. I think that, in addition to my letting them roast for 45 minutes without checking them earlier, contributed to their being just short of too burned to use. This time I placed the eggplant and tomatoes cut side down. I also used some shallots I had on hand; I sliced them in half lengthwise, peeled them, and put them cut side down on the baking sheet as well. Instead of peeling the garlic cloves and putting them on the sheet, I took a whole head, cut a slice across the bottom and wrapped it in foil after drizzling a little olive oil on it. That I just placed straight on the oven rack.

Half an hour was more than enough time for the vegetables to roast to perfection. Leaving them cut side down left them moist and tender. I emptied everything into the soup pot, added about 3 cups of chicken broth and a cup of water, brought it to a boil then lowered the heat and let it simmer for about twenty minutes, and then pureed it.

I still had a little bit of thyme left so I used that along with some dried. At the last minute I thought tarragon might be a nice addition so I put some of that in too. Unfortunately, I put a little too much in and it was just a touch overpowering. I thought about what I could do to redeem it.

The overall effect of the tarragon was a touch of bitterness. I thought about what could take away the bitterness, maybe adding a touch of sweetness, while at the same time brightening up the flavors. Maybe it was because the soup already had an orange tinge to it that I thought to add the juice from a Mineola.

It was the perfect fix. The slight sweetness counteracted the bitterness from the tarragon. There was just enough tartness to keep it from being overwhelmingly sweet, andit brightened up all of the flavors. This is the version I will keep and make again.

The Roasted Eggplant Soup recipe works well as a guidelines for creating your own roasted vegetable soup. The variations are basically endless. What vegetables would you use?

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