Eggplant Vegetable Soup by Christine Vartanian-Datian
1/2 medium onion, diced
3 large cloves garlic, minced
2 to 3 Tbsp. Olive oil
1 1/2 cups eggplant, peeled and cubed
1 cup fresh or canned tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 cup carrots, peeled and diced
1 cup fresh mushrooms, diced
1 cup zucchini, peeled and diced
1/2 cup yellow squash, chopped
2 stalks celery and top greens, diced
1/2 cup frozen peas, rinsed
4 cups low-sodium chicken, or vegetable, or beef broth - and - 3 cups water (to taste)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 - 15 oz. can white beans or garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon each crushed dried basil and oregano (fresh basil and oregano may be used)
Kosher or sea salt and black pepper
Crushed red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, paprika (to taste)
1 small head escarole (or Napa cabbage or spinach), washed and roughly chopped
Garnishing Options: Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese, grated, or crumbled Feta cheese, chopped fresh basil, drizzle of olive oil
Sauté the onions and garlic in a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large soup pan; cook until the onions are translucent. Add the eggplant, tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms, zucchini, squash, celery, and peas; toss and continue to cook a few more minutes. Add the broth, water, tomato paste, beans, and spices; bring to a full boil and stir a few times.
Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 55-60 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
About 15 minutes before the soup is done, add the roughly chopped escarole to the soup, stir, and continue cooking. Adjust seasonings and add more liquid, if necessary.
To serve, ladle soup into individual bowls and garnish with cheese, chopped fresh basil, and crushed red pepper flakes. Drizzle with olive oil, if desired.