Roasted Eggplant, Oregano and Tomato Soup

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2 large eggplant, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
1/4 cup uncooked tiny pasta, such as orzo
1 large Spanish onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 ribs celery, sliced
8 large tomatoes, diced
20 basil leaves, sliced
5 cups vegetable stock
1 large raw potato, grated
salt and ground pepper to taste

Place the diced eggplant in a colander and salt it generously. Mix well then salt again. Allow the eggplant to drain in the colander for 30 minutes then rinse quickly and drain.

Meanwhile, boil the orzo or other pasta in rapidly boiling salted water until tender then drain and set aside.

Heat a large non-stick pot with half the olive oil and add the well-drained eggplant. Cook over a high heat for 5-10 minutes until the eggplant cubes are deep golden brown. Add the fresh oregano and toss for another minute or two then transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Add the remaining olive oil to the pot and add the onion, garlic and celery and cook over a high heat for 5 minutes until the onion is golden. Add the tomatoes and stir well to mix the vegetables thoroughly. Add the basil, stock and potato and bring to the boil. Simmer for 20-25 minutes until all the soup is fragrant.

Puree or blend the soup until smooth then return to the pot. Season to taste with salt and pepper then add the eggplant mixture and cooked orzo.

Serve hot or cold, garnished with sprigs of fresh herbs.

Serves 6

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