This classic French vegetable stew is a perfect way to enjoy several abundant summer garden vegetables — eggplant, zucchini, peppers, and tomatoes —in a single, savory dish. Fresh basil, and oregano or thyme provide extra pleasure for both the palate and the eye. Serve on its own with crusty bread, or over pasta or polenta.
Serves: 6 to 8
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup finely chopped onion or leeks
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium eggplant, diced, or 2 long Japanese eggplants, sliced
- 1 medium red or green bell pepper, diced
- 2 medium zucchini, diced
- 1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, diced
- 4 cups water
- 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning blend
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- Add 1/2 cup chopped briny olives or sun-dried tomatoes
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Several sprigs fresh thyme or oregano
- Fresh basil, as desired (the more, the better!)
Heat the olive oil in a soup pot. Add the onions or leeks and sauté over medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until the onion is golden.
Add the eggplant, peppers, and water. Bring to a slow boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.
Add the zucchini, tomatoes, paprika, and seasoning blend. simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Adjust consistency with more water if needed, but let this remain thick, as it’s more of a stew than a soup.
Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley, and optional olives or dried tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve at once. Garnish individual servings with sprigs of thyme or oregano, as well as basil. If the basil leaves are small, leave them whole; slice larger leaves thinly.
Add 2 cups cooked or canned chickpeas or white beans to add protein and turn into a main dish.