It's not the prettiest, but it's what's on the inside that counts, right?
I realize that we're still in the heat of Texas summer and that soups aren't usually the food of choice in the winter, but I also keep hearing people tell me that eating hot soup makes you feel like it's cooler out. My response to that is usually "YES, because you're now SWEATING and it's YOUR OWN FAULT," but in true hypocritical style, today I am making soup.
I looooooove eggplant, cannellini and ricotta, so what could be more perfect than combining them all? I also have a perfectly sized parm rind sitting in the fridge and begging to be put to use. I'd heard that you can use the rind in soups to add a great savory flair, and this is my chance to find out. I can't believe that much flavor can come from such a tiny piece of rind, but I'm willing to try!
Also, I am making on major divergence from the original recipe. The original recipe calls for sherry, of which I have none. I usually keep a bottle of brandy on hand for pretty much any alcohol required in recipes, and it has served me well. This good history between us coupled with my absolute refusal to spend too much money on booze ensures that I will keep using that brandy til the bottle is gone. Unfortunately, the bottle IS gone. I suspect it is at Andrea's, my domicile, whereas my kitchen is at Tom's, where I am now. So, after much perusing the internet and discovering that most of the substitutes for sherry I also don't have, I settled on vanilla. I think it will add a subtle undertone that enhances the other flavors. We'll see. If not, well, I pledge to eat all of this soup on my own and not subject Tom to it, unlike the time I made the horrid portobello soup flavored with cabernet.
--break for cooking, tasting, reveling.
Back! So, it's delicious. I will say that the two shriveled jalapenos we used really packed a wallop! The vanilla blended in well, actually. The rind I didn't taste too clearly, but maybe it's because my tastebuds were under the attack of the mighty peppers. Tom gave this a thumbs up for being uber healthy, filling and delicious.
From HillJ on http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/375179
CREAMY EGGPLANT, CANNELLINI BEAN AND RICOTTA SOUP
3 large eggplants
1 Tbsp olive oil, plus several teaspoons for garnishing
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
2 fiery red jalapenos (I asked Tom whether he wanted a spicy soup or a not spicy soup and he gave me the look of "do you not know me, woman???)
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried basil (I used basil paste I have in the fridge)
1 15-oz can cannellini beans, drained
2 c chicken broth
1 T vanilla (the recipe calls for 2 T sherry, and I was soooo sure I had my stand-by bottle of brandy, which I use to substitute all alcohol in cooking just because I'm lazy and haven't built up a liquor cabinet, but apparently that's at Andrea's and my eggplant are already roasting at Tom's)
1/2 x 2" piece Parmesan rind (not waxy)
1 recipe fresh ricotta cheese
salt and black pepper
1) Prick eggplants and put them in oven at 475 for 40ish minutes. I always do this in a baking pan with aluminum foil because they weep and I'm a slacker cleaner. I let the eggplants finish cooking before starting the rest so they are cool enough to handle when it comes time to add them to the mix.
2) Take eggplants out of oven and let cool. Heat oil in soup pot and cook garlic through basil until onions/garlic are soft and translucent but not colored.
3) Squish out the eggplant into the pot. I hear that you really can just lop off the stems and roll them up from the other end like you would a tube of toothpaste. That sounds grand. However, I tried that today, and it didn't work-- they weren't cooked enough. I reeeealllly want to try this, so next time I might roast for 60 minutes.
4) Add the beans, vanilla, rind and broth. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes.
5) Remove about half the soup, puree it and return it to the pot or use one of those handy-dandy hand mixers. Or, just let it be as is-- that's what I did. I like to chew my food. Whatever. If you took some to blend, put it back in the pot and stir.
6) Season the ricotta with salt and pepper, toss it on top of each bowl. Dig in!!
Makes 6 servings
Makes 6 servings
Olive oil: .10
parmesan: freeish bc it would have gotten thrown away were it not for this recipe, but .10
Total for recipe: 5.13, which comes to .86 for a handsome serving of deliciousness.