1 teaspoon salt
1 pound eggplant, diced
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, broken into small pieces
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound tomatoes, peeled and diced
6 cups chicken stock (see link)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of the salt over the eggplant. Put the eggplant in a colander with a plate and a 1-pound weight on top, and let drain for 15 minutes.
2. In a large stockpot, cook the olive oil, onion, garlic, dried porcini, oregano, and red pepper flakes over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the onions start to sizzle, about 3 minutes. Cover, reduce the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.
3. Pat the eggplant pieces dry with a towel. Raise the heat to medium-high, add the eggplant, and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, and basil and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar, and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Uncover the pot and continue simmering and stirring for 30 minutes.
4. Place 3 cups of soup in a blender and puree to a smooth paste. Stir the puree back into the pot and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes. Serve hot.
When you puree hot foods in the blender, steam can build up, forcing off the lid and splattering hot liquid. Here is Nick Stellino’s method for avoiding that problem: Add the food to the blender and secure the lid. Hold the lid down with a towel and pulse briefly. Open the top to release the steam, and then continue pulsing and releasing the steam until you have achieved the required consistency.