First off, my grandma has nothing to do with this recipe :) The actual story behind this dish? A few weeks ago, a couple of friends and I decided to revive the memories of the soccer world cup feelings and got tickets for Sönke Wortmann’s much hyped -and deservedly so- film “Deutschland. Ein Sommermärchen” (“Germany. A Summer’s Fairytale”; link points to website including trailer). The evening, naturally, had to be kicked off on a proper culinary note. We decided in favor of Anna Bar, opposite to the Mathäser cinema, a spot known for good pre-movie sushi. Not high end but pretty decent.
At first, we were a bit bummed since all except one of our men gave us a rain check. A lost mobile, illness and a babysitter who went into hiding, all lame excuses in my opinion. Men and soccer, what can I say!? So it was us, 6 girls and a guy! And another surprise: That evening, the sushi – while good – was clearly overtrumped by Anja’s dish: Ratatouille soup with mascarpone.
Tempted by her mmm sounds we all wanted to sample and she graciously shared it with everyone. We started having a lively discussion on how to reproduce this soup, which didn’t get us anywhere. On the other hand – and this is really not me – I was too shy to ask the waiter to ask the cook if he’d be willing to share the recipe, or, well, give us a hint anyway. I still keep wondering: is it a big NO-NO to ask about a recipe? I’ve done it on very rare occasions in the past and my personal success rate would be about 50% in getting an answer. I really don’t mind, if they decline and respond with a “NO”, but hey, can’t blame me for tryin’! And to shatter the argument about not returning, since now I’d be magically able “to make it myself just as good“, well that’s not true, in fact I tend to come back even sooner simply because of their kindness.
With the colder days slowly approaching – although this year’s temperatures are way out of the norm – my craving for soups returned. The last weeks I have been searching the web for different ratatouille recipes, found a few and gave them a soup tuning. It was almost too easy! After just two attempts I was completely satisfied with the achieved taste, I’d claim it even deserves a top rank among my favorite soups. Unlike other soups I make, this one needs to be strained after blending it, which produces an unbelievably smooth and silky texture and gives the soup a deep orange color. The mascarpone adds a nice balance, just make sure to add it before you sieve the soup, otherwise you’ll end up with small lumps floating around. It’s a fairly forgiving recipe, you can always substitute one vegetable with another and adapt the mix to your own liking.
Note: For those of you able to receive ARD (German TV program), the movie “Deutschland. Ein Sommermärchen” will premier on television tonight at 20.15pm. Don’t miss out!
First prepare the vegetables: Wash and roughly dice the eggplant, bell peppers, zucchino; this is no beauty contest, everything will be blended later on.
Heat the olive oil in a large pot (medium to high heat), then add finely chopped onions, garlic cloves and chili. Cook until onions become translucent. Then add the tomato puree, the eggplant and sautée for two or three minutes while stirring occasionally.
Now add the rest of the prepared vegetables (bell peppers & zucchino) as well as the fresh herbs and roast for a couple of minutes (don’t forget to stir every now and then), this will add a nice roast flavor to the vegetables. Deglaze with the canned, chopped tomatoes (I cut out the stems) and their juice, add the hot vegetable broth and the heavy cream.
Add the spices: sea salt, black pepper, smoked pepper, sugar, nutmeg and let simmer for 20-30 minutes or until all vegetables are soft.
Mash the mix with a handheld blender, add the mascarpone, then pass trough a fine-mesh sieve using a big ladle – it’s well worth the effort! Discard the solids (or keep them for whatever you feel they could be used for).
Put the pot back on the stove and add two bay leaves. Let simmer for a few more minutes, season to taste. Finally discard the bay leaves and serve with a generous dollup of either mascarpone, sour cream or crème fraîche and a slice of toasted bread.
Recipe source: own creation
Prep time: 20min., cooking time: at least 30min.
Ingredients (serves 2-3):
4 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 red chili, finely chopped (amount to taste)
1 eggplant, diced
4 tbsp of tomato puree
2 bell peppers, one red, one yellow, diced
1 zucchino, diced
1 mid-sized can tomatoes, chopped, including juice
fresh oregano and/or thyme, chopped
1l vegetable broth
100ml heavy cream
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2-3 tsp white sugar
freshly ground nutmeg
1-2 bay leaves
1 tsp smoked pepper/Pimentón de la Vera picante (amount to taste)
4-5 tbsp mascarpone, sour cream or crème fraîche
serve with toasted bread/baguette and an extra dollop of mascarpone etc.