ROASTED RED PEPPER AND EGGPLANT SOUP
2 Eggplants (about 2 1/2 pounds total), halved
4 Red Bell Peppers (about 22 ounces)
1/4 cup Olive Oil
2 medium Onions, chopped
1 medium Leek, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise (white and pale green parts only; about 2 cups)
6 large Garlic Cloves, minced
8 1/2 cups Chicken Stock (Vegetable Stock can be substituted)
3 tbsp Tomato Paste
1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1/4 cup Fresh Basil, chopped
2 tbsp Fresh Thyme, chopped
3 tbsp Unsalted Butter
1 1/2 tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice
Preheat oven to 450°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Pierce eggplants all over with fork. Transfer, cut side down, to baking sheet. Roast until tender, about 45 minutes. Cool slightly. Remove peel and discard. Cut eggplants into large pieces. Rinse eggplant pieces under running water. Drain well. Set aside.
Char bell peppers over gas flame or in broiler until blackened on all sides. Enclose in paper bag 10 minutes. Peel, seed and coarsely chop peppers.
Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and leek and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Stir in eggplant, peppers, chicken stock, and tomato paste. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered until vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes. Stir in basil and thyme. Cool slightly.
Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth. Return soup to pot. Season with salt and pepper. Add butter and lemon juice; stir over low heat until soup is heated through, about 5 minutes. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to simmer before continuing.) Transfer to large bowl.
Shaved parmesan adds a delicious garnish!