Eggplant and Tomato Soup

2 large eggplants, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup flour
3 medium ripe tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion
1/2 stalk celery, chopped
1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 bay leaf
1 cup dry white wine
1 quart broth
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon salt-free creole seasoning
1/2 cup whipping cream

1. If you think the eggplants might be bitter (plenty of seeds inside is an indicator of this), put the slices in a colander and sprinkle a great deal of salt all over the slices. Fit a bowl on top of them and weigh the bowl down with a can or two of something, and let the eggplant drain in the sink for a half-hour. Wash all the salt off. Dust the eggplant slices lightly with the flour.

2. Cut a small X on the bottoms of the tomatoes and plunge them into boiling water for a minute. When cool, peel the tomatoes. Cut them open and squeeze all the seeds and pulp out. Chop and set aside.

3. Heat the olive oil in a brothpot over high heat and sauté the eggplants until soft. (They will absorb all the oil quickly, but don't add any more unless they're sticking.)

4. Remove the eggplants, and add the onions, celery, and garlic to the pan. Lower the heat to medium and cook the vegetables until soft.

5. Add the tomatoes and white wine and bring to a boil. After two minutes of boiling, add the broth, bay leaf, eggplant, salt and Creole seasoning. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes.

6. Puree the soup in a food processor and strain through a coarse sieve. Add the cream, adjust seasonings, and serve hot.

Serves four to six.

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