Tag Archives: eggplant

Roasted Vegetable Soup & Homemade Croutons

23 Dec

The greatest delight of the fields and woods minister is the suggestion of an occult relation between man and the vegetable.
I am not alone and unacknowledged. They nod to me and I to them.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Recipe source: Adapted from Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Family Style

Well, it’s official, we’re now two days into winter. And besides cold weather and Christmas just around the bend, what that mostly means for me is a bellyache from the overwhelming amount of cookies, cakes, pies, chocolates, fudge and what-have-you everywhere in my sight. Co-workers make them, friends give them, and it would be rude not to consume them… right? Since you might be facing this dilemma as well, I thought I’d supply you with a little detox.

Soup is always a comfort on a cold winter day, and easy to eat when you have a cold. This recipe is extremely variable and can be adjusted to use whatever vegetables are in season throughout the year. For now, it’s carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash.

The first time I made this recipe, I followed Ina Garten’s instructions to a tee, and wasn’t thrilled. It was too carrot-ey for me, and just overall bland.

roasted veggies

So, I halved the amount of carrots and added an eggplant.

roasted veggies

I also added a ton of flavor with my no-so-secret weapons, onion, garlic, and ginger. I think onions and garlic should appear in just about any savory dish, and especially soups, so I’m surprised Ina didn’t include them the first time around. (puzzled face)

onions, garlic, ginger

Regardless. To make this soup, you will chop the vegetables of your choice, toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast in a 425-degree oven for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, saute the onions, garlic, and ginger in a large soup pot, then transfer to a food processor and puree. When the vegetables come out of the oven, add them to the food processor and puree as well. How long you puree depends on the texture you like – I like my soup slightly chunky.

pouring stock

If you have a super-cool food processor with a pouring tube like this, slowly pour 3 cups of chicken or vegetable sock while the blade is spinning to keep the processor from jamming. If not, remove the lid and add your stock incrementally between pulses.

Just before serving, pour the mixture back into the pot and heat to warm.

Ina’s soup:
roasted vegetable soup

My soup:
roasted vegetable soup

This soup is delicious serve with some kind of bread. When I’m in a hurry, I like lightly toasted rosemary bread. In a major hurry, Breton crackers. But if I have a little more time, homemade croutons are wonderful… provided I can resist eating the oil and salt-soaked bread before toasting it! I like to use sourdough for this, but you can use any loaf you like.

sourdough loaf

Wishing you a warm and happy winter surrounded by those you love. xox

RECIPE – Roasted Vegetable Soup

2 carrots, peeled
1 parsnip, peeled
1 sweet potato, peeled
1 eggplant
1/2 small butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled and seeded
3 tablespoons good olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, chopped
1/2 white onion
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Brioche croutons, recipe follows
Good olive oil

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Cut the carrots, parsnip, sweet potato, eggplant, and butternut squash in 1- to 1 1/4-inch cubes. All the vegetables will shrink while baking, so don’t cut them too small.

Place all the cut vegetables in a large bowl or gallon-size freezer bag, drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and toss well to coat. Spread vegetables in a single layer on 2 sheet pans. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender, turning once with a metal spatula.

Meanwhile, saute garlic and ginger in about two tablespoons of olive oil in a large soup pot for about 1 minute. Add in diced onion and saute for about 5 minutes, until onions are lightly browned. Transfer onion mixture to a food processor and puree.

In two batches, coarsely puree the roasted vegetables with the onion mixture, pouring in chicken or vegetable stock to aid the food processor as you go. Pour the pureed vegetables back into the soup pot and season, to taste. Thin with more stock if desired, and reheat. The soup should be thick but not like a vegetable puree, so add more stock and/or water until it’s the consistency you like. Serve with homemade croutons or crusty bread.

Serves 4

RECIPE – Homemade Croutons (skip if gluten-free)

1 12-ounce loaf of bread (sourdough, brioche, challah)
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Slice the bread about 3/4 inch thick. Cut off the crusts and then cut the slices in 3/4 inch dice. You should have 6 to 8 cups of croutons.

Place the croutons on a sheet pan and toss them with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, tossing once, until they are nicely browned on all sides. Cool to room temperature before using and store in a sealed plastic bag.


[indigo] Vegetarian Moussaka, Spiced Roasted Plums

16 Apr

Well. Yesterday was fun. A few ingredients in the blender and bzzz, done. Now I’m back to my uber-involved recipes, as well as facing my childhood nemesis: moussaka.

Today’s chakra: Ajna – Wisdom Center (Brow)
Color: Indigo: inspiration & peace of mind
Location: Three fingers behind the center of the brow
Associated body organs: Brain, eyes, pituitary gland
Controlled emotions: Perception, knowledge and understanding

[For an explanation of the chakras, see Sunday’s post.]


I think the traditional moussaka is made with ground beef, but I found a vegetarian version and decided to try it instead. To start off, slice and salt the eggplant, and let it sit for 30 minutes to release water. Rinse, then pat them dry. Slice zucchinis as well.

The original recipe called for browning the eggplant and zucchini in oil, but due to my recent learning experience of eggplant soaking up copious amounts of oil, I decided roasting the veggies would be lighter. Potatoes, on the other hand, I did brown in oil.

after roasting

Next, sauté onion and garlic, then add in white vinegar, canned tomatoes, canned lentils with half their liquid, dried oregano and fresh parsley. Let it all simmer for 15 minutes.

In a 9×13 baking dish, layer the veggies, sauce and feta cheese, ending with veggies. Bake for 25 minutes at 375 degrees F.

Meanwhile, make a béchamel sauce. You might think that with a French boyfriend, I’d be a pro at béchamel. Mais non. I have never made it. I don’t have to. I’m spoiled. So I figured it was high time I learned. (BTW I feel so Southern belle saying “it’s high time I __.” Must use this expression more often.)

You will begin by melting butter in a saucepan, then whisking in flour until well blended to make a roux. In a separate saucepan or the microwave, heat milk, then incorporate gradually into the roux, whisking vigorously. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. This is a classic béchamel. In this recipe, you will let it cool for 5 minutes off the heat, then add in a beaten egg. I think Julia Child called this an “enrichment” to the sauce. If very thick, add more warm milk in increments.

When 25 minutes are up, remove moussaka from oven, top with béchamel and grated parmesan, and return to the oven to cook for another 25 to 30 minutes.

2 eggplants, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large zucchinis, thinly sliced
2 potatoes, thinly sliced
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/2 (14.5 ounce) can lentils, drained, juice reserved
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup crumbled feta cheese

Béchamel Sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups milk
black pepper to taste
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Sprinkle eggplant slices with salt and set aside for 30 minutes. Rinse and pat dry. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly brown eggplant and zucchini slices on both sides; drain. Adding more oil if necessary, brown potato slices; drain.

Sauté onion and garlic until lightly browned. Pour in vinegar and reduce. Stir in tomatoes, lentils, 1/2 the juice from lentils, oregano and parsley. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 15 minutes.

In a 9×13 inch casserole dish, layer eggplant, zucchini, potatoes and feta. Pour tomato-onion mixture over vegetables; repeat layering, finishing with a layer of eggplant and zucchini. Cover and bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan combine butter, flour and milk. Bring to a slow boil, whisking constantly until thick and smooth. Season with pepper and add nutmeg. Remove from heat, cool for 5 minutes, and stir in beaten egg.

Pour sauce over vegetables and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, for another 25 to 30 minutes.


For dessert, I found a recipe for spicy oven-roasted plums on allrecipes.com. I scanned the ingredients list… plums, ok, orange juice, ok, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and… cumin?

So of course you know now why I had to try this recipe. I must try all manner of bizarro flavor combinations.

Plus, it’s easy. You just mix the juice, brown sugar and spices to make a sauce, halve and pit the plums, and pour the sauce over them in a baking dish with sides. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly.

This would be awesome combined with vanilla ice cream, maybe with the plums cut a little smaller, but alas, we didn’t have any ice cream. The cumin aroma is strong, but I couldn’t really taste it over the other spices when combined with the plum. Even if it grosses you out though, this would still be a yummy recipe without it.

4 plums, halved and pitted
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a shallow baking dish with cooking spray.

Place the plums, cut-side up, in a single layer in the baking dish.

Whisk together the orange juice, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin, and cardamom in a bowl; drizzle over the plums.

Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until plums are hot and the sauce is bubbly.