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Tomato, Sausage & Eggplant Soup

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup plus 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 1/2 cup cubed eggplant (1/2″ cubes)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped fennel or celery
  • 2 Tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tsp. ground or crushed fennel seed
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 lb. sweet Italian sausage with casing removed
  • 1 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 29 oz. can heavy tomato puree
  • 1 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, chopped
  1. Heat the 1/3 cup of olive oil in a 4-5 qt. saucepan. Add the eggplant and 1/2 tsp. of the salt. Sauté over medium high heat, stirring frequently for 4 to 5 minutes, or until just tender. Transfer the eggplant to a bowl.
  2. In the same pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onions, fennel or celery, garlic, fennel seed, pepper, bay leaves, the remaining tsp. of salt, basil and thyme. Cook over medium high heat, stirring frequently for 5-6 minutes. Add the sausage and sauté 5-6 minutes, breaking up the meat into small pieces with a spoon. Add the chicken stock, tomato puree, chopped tomatoes with their juice and the eggplant.
  3. Cover and simmer 10-15 minutes. If the soup seems too thick, add more chicken stock.
  4. Remove bay leaves before serving.

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