To make it easier to understand my choices, there are some things that should be explained. There are two main benefactors of my cooking whose opinions I take seriously. They are my husband (no surprise there!) and my brother (who is our neighbor by the way and a frequent guest in our home). When it comes to soups, both my guys love to find meat in their bowls. Vegetable soups are pointless, they say, you eat it and you're hungry half and hour later!
Searching for new recipes, some people turn to various cookbooks, magazines or internet. My favorite place to look is FoodNetwork. It's a fabulous resource for those who love gourmet cooking. This time a recipe by Michael Chiarello caught my eye and I used it as a base. I made some significant changes, of course.
First of all, I substituted canned tomatoes called for in the recipe for fresh ones. When it comes to veggies, to me it's always a 'duh' moment - I always opt for fresh rather than frozen or canned if I have an option. So, I cut my tomatoes into 1-inch pieces, spread them on a sheet pan and roasted them in the oven (with olive oil, salt and pepper).
The next change I made was adding the eggplant which I sliced and also roasted in the oven. I chopped it up finely and added it at the end, when the rest of the soup was already blended. Those chunks add some texture which, if you ask me, is nice in a blah, I mean blended soup:)
And the last but in no way the least addition to my tomato soup was MEAT! Before making the soup, while my tomatoes were roasting in the oven, I cooked the ground beef with spices (salt, pepper, fresh marjoram) in my pot which I then used for the soup. When the meat was done I set it aside in a covered dish. I added it to the soup at the very end along with the eggplant after everything else was blended. If it weren't for the meat addition I would never have opted out on heavy cream in my soup, but this time it seemed like a good idea.
So there you have it, that's the kind of soup it turned out to be. It was delicious and I've got a request to make it again soon.