Red Bell Pepper Soup with Eggplant Caviar

8 red bell peppers
1 clove garlic
5 cups vegetable stock
dash of tabasco sauce
For the Garnish
1 pound eggplant (1 large or 2 small) cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup greek yogurt or sour cream
2 scallions, green part only, finely chopped on the slant (optional)

To make the soup, place the bell peppers under a very hot broiler until the skins are charred on all sides. However, take care not to overcook the bell peppers - it is important that the flesh itself remains as red as possible and does not turn black. Discard any part of the flesh that may have become black.

Set aside the bell peppers to cool in a bowl covered with a cloth or plastic wrap so that the vapors rising from the heat loosen the skin from the flesh. Peel and remove all seeds and pith.

Blend the bell peppers in a food processor with the garlic, a little stock, a dash of Tabasco, and salt. Add the rest of the stock and heat to a gentle simmer.

To make the garnish, sprinkle the eggplant with salt and allow to drain for at least 1 hour to extract the bitter juices. Rinse well. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the eggplant, crushed garlic, and salt and pepper. Fry until completely soft but the blackness of the skins is still visible. Serve the soup warm or chilled, garnishing each serving, with a spoonful of eggplant "caviar," a spoonful of Greek yogurt or sour cream, and a few slivers of scallion if using.

Serves 6

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