Onions, celery, carrots, tomatoes, garlic, eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper, potatoes... and some fresh herbs= one delicious and hearty soup.
Time for The Off The Cuff Chef to butcher a traditional French recipe. Ratatouille (ra-ta-TOO-ee) is a vegetable stew, although mine always ends up more like a soup, so that is what I'm showing you how to make below here. For more information about more authentic versions, please consult this link. Please don't report me to Julia Child's estate. I know my recipe is not quite up to par, but it's a darn good version, in my humblest of opinions. And isn't that basically what always happens? Alternate ingredients come into the picture, substitutions are made, etc. So here's something similar to a traditional ratatouille, that I make every so often. I regret that I did not have a nice crusty loaf of bread to go with this, but alas, you can't always have everything.
1 cup Mirepoix -- (mirepoix, (meer-PWAH) in case you did not know is equal proportions of finely chopped onion, carrots, and celery)
8-10 Campari vine-ripened tomatoes (or other small, flavorful tomatoes. I can't deal with those gritty, mealy, pale tomatoes that sacrifice flavor for size. No thanks.)
1- 2 eggplants (depending on size -- I used two thinner eggplants, but one large one would suffice.) ** To prep eggplant, peel rind off using a veggie peeler, peeling toward yourself in a gentle zig-zagging motion if the peeler doesn't advance easily. Once peeled, cut into thin discs (about 1/4" thick) and place discs on a large cutting board. Salt each side, and let sit for about 30 minutes. Rinse off salty water, and cut each disc into bite sized chunks.
1 1/2 cups of diced red or gold potatoes, with skin still on
2 green or yellow zucchini, cut into chunks
1 red bell pepper, remove the core and seeds, cut into chunks
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp vegetable bouillon base, stirred into 5-6 cups water
8-10 fresh basil leaves
1 bay leaf
1-2 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp marjoram
Chop and prepare all vegetables as directed. In a large soup pot, drizzle a little olive oil in the base, and saute the mirepoix until onion is translucent. Toss in minced garlic towards the end of that cooking time, and add diced zucchini, and eggplant, and drizzle a little more oil if needed.
When zucchini and eggplant are nearly soft, add all other ingredients, and let this simmer for 30-40 minutes. (Discard bay leaf.) Top with grated cheese, and serve with bread and a nice red wine!
(You may notice in my final photo that there are chunks of chicken breast in there as well. I did this to appease my husband, who is a protein fiend.)