Caponata Soup
Caponata Soup
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  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO, plus more for brushing the eggplant
  • 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 ends 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 pepper, such as Italian cherry pepper or Fresno pepper, 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 oregano
  • 1 can Italian tomatoes (28-32 ounces) or 3-4 large fresh ripe tomatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 4 cups chicken stock (32 ounces) plus 1-2 cups water
  • A few leaves of torn basil
  • A few flat leaf parsley tops, for garnish

Pre-heat the oven to 450°F.

Place a cooling rack over a baking sheet. Thinly slice the eggplant into discs about a quarter-inch thick. Brush the 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, then quarter the discs of roasted eggplant.  

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

Serve in shallow bowls garnished with parsley leaves.

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