2 large purple eggplant
4 ripe tomatoes, quartered
2 red capsicums, deseeded and quartered
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 large sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed
¼ teaspoon dried chilli flakes
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 onion, finely chopped
600 ml hot vegetable or chicken stock
100 grams puy lentils
flat-leaf parsley, chopped
finely grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise, score the flesh in a criss-cross pattern then cut each half into 3-4 pieces. Place in a roasting dish just large enough to hold all the vegetables snugly. Add the tomatoes, peppers, thyme, chilli and season. Drizzle over 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the balsamic vinegar and toss to coat.
Roast for 50-60 minutes, turning occasionally, until the vegetables are soft and slightly caramelised.
Cook the lentils until tender according to the directions on the packet.
Heat the remaining oil in a large stock pot and sauté the onion until translucent and soft. Add all the vegetables and juices and cook for a couple of minutes before adding the stock. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes.
Remove from the heat and blend until nearly smooth but still with some texture.
Return to the pan, add the cooked lentils and bring back to the boil before serving. Ladle into bowls, garnish with chopped flat-leaf parsley and serve with grated Parmesan if desired.
Puy lentils: these small slate-green lentils have a delicate blue marbling. They are considered by many to be the best lentil because of their unique peppery flavour and the fact they hold their shape during cooking. They’re the only lentil to be identified by area of cultivation; grown in the Le Puy region of France. Available from good supermarkets and gourmet food stores.