Eggplant Soup

from The New York Times Bread and Soup Cookbook by Yvonne Young Tarr

3 small eggplants
5 tablespoons butter
5 medium-sized tomatoes
1 large onion
1 1/2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves, crushed
Pinch of marjoram
1/2 cup rice
2 1/2 quarts beef stock
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 pound veal, finely ground
2 teaspoons onion, minced
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
Garlic Croutons
2 tablespoons chopped chives

Peel the eggplants and cut into 1-inch cubes. Soak the cubes in salted water for 20 minutes and then drain. Heat the butter in a large skillet, add the eggplant cubes and cook slowly, covered, for 30 minutes. Stir the eggplant occasionally to brown evenly. Peel, seed, and chop the tomatoes. Peel and chop the onion very fine. Add the tomatoes, onion, garlic, bay leaves, and marjoram to the eggplant. Cook over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are well mixed with the eggplant.

Add the rice, beef stock, salt, and pepper. Cover and simmer the soup for 40 minutes. Combine the ground veal with the minced onion, nutmeg, oregano, salt, and pepper. Form into tiny meatballs and roll in the flour. Force the soup through a coarse sieve, then bring it to a boil. Drop the meatballs into the soup and boil gently for 15 minutes. Serve hot, garnished with garlic croutons and chopped chives.

Comment: I use ground beef instead of veal and omit the croutons and chives.

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