What a day! We went gleaning at an orchard this morning to help out local food pantries which was a fantastic way to spend such a beautiful morning. Before leaving the orchard we stopped in their produce market and bought a variety of fall squash. We also discovered a box of eggplant on sale for $1.50 for like 5 pounds of eggplant because they were starting to get a little soft, still in very good condition though. So being the smart shopper that I am, I purchased the box for $$1.50 and started looking up things to make with eggplant. The winning idea for the day- Soup! I did glance over a recipe for soup, but I honestly do not remember anything about it except tomato sauce and onion and garlic. If you don’t already know I am a soup making diva and have no need for following recipes when it comes to soup. I think I like making them so much because when I cook I like to just throw stuff together and see how it turns out and with soup- it usually has good results. To me, recipes are like suggestions,not rule books, which is why I will rarely type out an exact recipe in this blog . It stresses my husband out because he has an intense urning to follow the recipe to the T. So when I start tossing stuff around the soup pot like Remy in the movie “Ratatouille” he occasionally leaves the kitchen. 🙂 I had never made soup with Eggplant (I’ve never done much with eggplant in general to be honest) so this was indeed an adventure!
It all began with these lovely little eggplants: (I apologize for the poor quality of pictures tonight, my kitchen’s lighting is not the best)
I had read a long time ago something about soaking eggplant in salted water for a few minutes to get the bitterness out of them, so I sliced this rounds and soaked in salted water while I chopped onion, garlic and a little celery. I also started simmering one cup of dry barley in a separate small pot (I could have cooked it in the soup pot but wanted to keep it separate because I was unsure of how long I wanted to simmer the veggies in the soup ad barley takes about 45 minutes to soften). The barley needs to be rinsed before cooking. Bath time!
Once everything was chopped and ready, I heated olive oil in the bottom of my soup pan and began sautéing my onion, then added the garlic, then a little celery leaf till starting to brown a little. Then I added my cubed eggplant to sauté a little before adding the liquids. I also added extra olive oil at this point because I know eggplant absorb a lot of oil and with all the flavor going on in this pot, we want them to absorb as many flavors as they can.
Then I added two small cans of tomato sauce (that’s all I had) and some vegetable bouillon cubes. I ended up using three over all- each was added with about a cup or 2 of water. Next I flung open the spice cupboard and let’s see if I can remember everything that flew out into the soup…. Parsley, thyme, basil, oregano, crushed red pepper, and curry….. I think that is it. Just a little of each.. but mostly the first 4.
When the barley was close to being soft, I added it to the soup so it could soak up some of the tomato spicy goodness.
The end result may not look like much, but oh my goodness. When I did a taste test, my initial reaction was an – ooh!? hmm wow.. oh my! Then another taste. It had a tomato-nutty-sweet-spice that literally shocked me. I was not expecting it to taste like that, but my-oh-my is it scrumptious. I just finished my second bowl tonight and if I had a morsel less of self control I would be’ the rest of the pot right now. It is that good.
My husband’s review was that he liked it, especially the little bit of spice, which is how I decided upon the name for this delectable soup. I might just have to make some more with some of the other eggplant I have. I also want to make eggplant parmesan, eggplant garlic humus, and Mediterranean stuff eggplant. I am going to need to get some fancy cheese for some of those dishes though, so we’ll see what I end up making before my eggplant go bad.
What is good for you in this stew?
I love to know what is good for me in the food I am eating.
Stews and soups are awesome because you get so many different things healthy things in one pot- so I am not going to talk about everything but here are some highlights:
Eggplant– Contains chlorogenic acid, which is one of the most potent free radical scavengers found in plant tissues. These free radicals help your body fight cancer, bad cholesterol, and bacterial and viral activity. It also contains other phytonutrients; antioxidants which help cell membrane functioning as well as support your immune system.
(tomato, garlic and onion were discussed in the pizza entry, so look that up if you are interested)
Basil (one of my favorite seasonings!)- High in lutein and zeaxanthin for good eye health, eugenol found in basil is an anti- inflammatory and can help relieve arthritis pain, also mildly sedative and pain relieving. Was traditionally used in remedies for indegestion, nausea and stomach ache.
Parsley- s strong antioxidant , neutralizes carcinogens which occur from cooking heat at high temperatures (on the grill- so always marinate your meat in something with lots of parsley and other herbs). Contains compound that help relieve menstrual cramps, pain and bloating. Rich in vitamin C and iron.
Oregano- The herb with the highest antioxidant activity (42 times higher than apples and 12 times higher than oranges!). Contains antibacterial oils of thymol and carvacrol which help prevent food poisoning and boosts immune system. Contains calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, high in fiber.
Thyme- Also full of powerful antioxidants and the antibacterial oil thymol. Rich in flavanoids which protect against diseases of aging. Rich in vitamin C and iron. A strong antiseptic and antibiotic- often recommended for use as mouthwash or treatment for bronchitis.
As you can see, herbs and spices and do a lot for your food and your body so don’t be afraid to let them out of that cupboard! Also remember to check expiration dates as they often expire in a year or 2 or 3.. and we tend to keep them around for much longer than that. Granted I’ve never heard of someone dying from use of old spices, but they probably are not as potent when they are 5 years old. 🙂
Eat, Enjoy and stay Healthy! 🙂