I used to hate eggplant.
I think it has something to do with an overcooked eggplant Parmesan somewhere in my youth. But eggplant being much like anything else, once we have a bad experience, we tend to forever loathe and avoid the offending situation – or vegetable, as the case may be.
Since joining our local CSA a couple of years ago, I’ve rediscovered eggplant. When vegetables show up in the farm share each week, I feel morally obligated to like them, or at least find a way to live with them. And so I’ve experimented with ways to enjoy eggplant, most of them successful. I even made an eggplant Parm that wasn’t too bad.
Last week, my husband brought home two aubergine beauties from the farm (not the ones in the photo – this week’s were much darker) and I immediately planned to make eggplant Parmesan for my mom. Life got in the way and it didn’t happen. If you know anything about eggplants, you know that you need to use those babies within a day or two or you end up with a very unattractive not-so-aubergine mass on your counter or in your fridge.
Since they were still perfectly edible but just this side of too soft for eggplant parm, I searched for another way to make that eggplant disappear. And I had to feed it to my Hub and Kidzilla – both professed non-eggplanters, despite many efforts to convert them.
As luck would have it, I found this recipe for Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Soup with Fresh Herbs over at Sumptuous Spoonfuls. (Via Pinterest, of course, because where else do you go to figure out what to do with soft eggplant?) The post promised the eggplant would disappear into the soup, leaving behind only a delightful buttery finish, not the taste of eggplant.
And so I made it. And the Hub and Zilla ate it. Twice. They genuinely liked it. As I was dishing up the leftover soup the following night, I got to thinking about soup and life…because that’s what I do.
Sometimes life hands us the beautiful and everything goes as planned. We get the job we hoped for, complete the project, or lose that ten pounds. And other times we are left with slightly soft eggplant. It’s usable, but perhaps not desirable. Rather than toss those declining eggplants, perhaps we can find a way to repurpose and transform them into something delicious. (Can you tell I watched Chopped last night?)
The eggplant did indeed disappear into the soup. You could tell it wasn’t straight-up conventional tomato soup, but it was delicious. It turned out sort of buttery and elegant, with a hidden richness that tomatoes alone would not provide.
Maybe life is like that, too – not quite what we expect or plan and not quite perfect, but with an underlying richness that comes from embracing all of the imperfections we encounter along the way.
Serve this soup with a fresh green salad and some rustic crusty bread for a light and satisfying dinner. And the next time life hands you some not-so-perfect eggplant, consider what richness you can create with what you have been given.
Mangiare bene vivere felici!
Eat well and live happy!