This recipe comes from A Fresh Taste of Italy by Michele Scicolone, one of my favorite cookbooks. The reason I bought this book is because I purchased her other book Savoring Italy and loved it so much, I thought, why not buy the other one too. The recipes are simple, and even though some of them lack flavor, it's really easy to fix by increasing the herbs/spices, because again, they are simple. What I love THE MOST though is how inspired I feel when I flip through the recipes. She combines ingredients that I would never combine, but it works perfectly.
Anyway, this recipe is from her cookbook, BUT I made a mistake with my own additions and made it WAYYYYY too spicy. To fix the problem, I increased the chicken stock (which I will leave out of the recipe below, because it does take away some flavor), added vermicelli, 1 egg, and 1/2 lemon juiced (I also added 1 jalapeno in the beginning). Because it was so spicy, it reminded me of my harirra soup, so I went in that direction a bit, but still maintained the Italian flavors.
I'll note my additions below, so you can choose either one. But the end result was DELICIOUS. My favorite soup to date. And I think the original recipe would probably be delicious as well. Although she used water instead of chicken stock, which I disagree with. Always add flavor when you can.
PS: I didn't get a picture of the final product, oops! The picture I took didn't turn out at all.
Eggplant, Tomato, and Basil Soup (And Elsa's Spicy Additions)
Serving Size = 4
Original Recipe: A Fresh Taste of Italy, Michele Scicolone, '97 p 85
- 1 medium eggplant (about 1 lb)
- Salt, to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped (I used 3)
- 2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded, chopped, or 2 cups chopped canned Italian tomatoes (I used fresh, probably smart to peel them, but I skipped it. I also skipped the seeding)
- 1 small dried chili pepper, crushed, or a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (I used flakes)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (I used at least 3)
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 4 slices of bread (skipped, not a fan of soggy bread)
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated pecorino romano (I used Parmesan)
- 4 fresh basil leaves for garnish (garnish? I don't think so.... haha)
- 2 cups water, or more if needed (I used chicken stock, always add flavor!)
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped (optional)
- A handful or so of broken vermicelli
- 1 egg
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 2 tablespoons fresh, chopped parsley
- Trim the stems from the eggplant and cut lengthwise in half. Place the halves in a large pot of cold water with a generous amount of salt. Bring to a simmer and cover, cook until tender (10 mins or so). They should be soft when poked with a fork. Drain and cut the eggplant into 1/2 inch pieces.
- I used my cast iron stockpot and set it over medium heat. Add the olive oil garlic (for 20 seconds) and then the tomatoes, chili, jalapeno, and chopped basil. Bring to simmer, then lower heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until it thickens a bit (maybe 15 mins).
- Add the eggplant, salt and pepper. Add 2 cups chicken stock, bring to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes. If the soup gets too thick, add more stock.
- (At this point, the author recommends placing a piece of toast into each bowl, and serving the soup over it with a sprinkle of Parmesan and the basil garnish. I do not want soggy bread though, so I skipped it.)
- Before I served it, in the last 2 or 3 minutes of cooking I added the vermicelli. Then I added the raw egg and stirred it in very well (it will cook super fast). Once everything is cooked, I shut the heat off and add the lemon juice, and serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan.
Could easily be made vegetarian by subbing the chicken stock with vegetable stock and leaving out the egg.
Linking to: Hearth and Soul