Woody Back’s Charred Tomato Soup, with Eggplant Chow Chow

Charring vegetables is one way Woody Back, executive chef of Roswell’s Table & Main, likes to add flavor to his dishes. When he’s cooking, he’s looking for six components – fat, acid, salt, aromatic, sweet and bitter. The charring provides the bitter in this soup. He demonstrated these recipes at the Morningside Farmers Market and Peachtree Road Farmers Markets this year.

He likes garnishing the soup with crumbles of soft goat cheese, but croutons offer a way to add a little crunch. He’s adamant about his crouton preparation though. No toasting squares of bread in the oven. “That just dries out the bread and gives you something like a rock. Melt butter in a skillet and toast your croutons until the surfaces are golden.” One more tip for crouton making – no little cubes. Just tear small pieces of bread from the loaf for irregular pieces with lots of craggy surfaces to soak up butter and provide a satisfying crunch.

Eggplant and Herb Pickle

This Persian pickle is a great way to serve eggplant. I got the original recipe from Saveur magazine. The dried mint is a totally Arabic thing. Don’t substitute fresh. Just skip it if you don’t have dried.

Eggplant Hash

This recipe is from Deborah Geering, local vegetarian food writer. She suggests it’s perfect with eggs and toast. Peppers are sort of “required” for hash, so if you don’t have any, run to your favorite local farmers market and pick some up. Any pepper will do – bell peppers, fancy Italian frying peppers … even hot peppers depending on how much heat you like.