My interest in the “Roasted Aubergine Soup,” from thedailyspud.com, deepened as the leftovers spanned a few days. The complex, silky flavor of the roasted eggplant was magical. Each spoonful made me swoon. Really. The extent of flavorings included only garlic, dried thyme, fennel seeds, cayenne pepper (although I used smoked paprika instead), and lemon juice -- simple additions. The potency of flavor is credited to the roasting process. This alone is what transforms a good vegetable into a better vegetable. You’ll catch a whiff of that enhancement as your eggplants, peppers, onion, and tomatoes roast for 40 minutes. I roasted my veggies in the morning, then let them sit and wait until I threw them in a soup pot, later that day.

Because I used small baby eggplants with thin skins, I did not bother to peel them before roasting. I imagine their skins helped deepen the color of my final soup. I crushed my fennel seeds in an electric spice grinder. I added 4 1/4 cups vegetable-bouillon stock to the pot with my roasted vegetables and lentils, along with 1 tsp. kosher salt, then simmered for 35 minutes. After pureeing the soup with my trusty immersion blender, I seasoned again with 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt and 1/2 tsp. black pepper. You’ll be rewarded by this thick, rich soup, abundantly flavored by roasted magnificence.

It’s hard to ignore the perk of macaroni and cheese when you’re a mother of a young child. For whatever reason, this dish is a mainstay in the hearts and stomachs of youngsters. The dish is warm and gooey pasta, easy to swallow. The recipe for “Baked Macaroni and Cheese,” from foodnetwork.com, can be served proudly to adults as well, thanks to its inclusion of real sharp cheddar cheese and its crunchy topping (I used cornflakes rather than panko crumbs). I even tossed in 2 cups of frozen broccoli.

I whisked my roux of butter, flour, and powdered mustard for 3 minutes. After adding the egg and much of the cheese, I added 1 tsp. kosher salt and 1/2 tsp. black pepper. My final casserole was rich and cheesy, full of cheddar sharpness -- so intense, in fact, that it may have been too sharp for my young child! It’s a great dish and you should try it.

PRICES
Eggplants (28 oz.) = $3.66
Red Bell Peppers (12 oz.) = .69¢
Red Onion (7 oz.) = .30¢
Tomatoes (9 oz.) = .71¢
French Indigo Lentils (4 oz.) = .37¢
Sharp Cheddar (12 oz.) = $6.73

RECIPES: enrich your life with a roasted vegetable soup and enjoy, unashamedly, the appeal of mac & cheese
PREP TIMES:
eat soup after less than two hours of prep, roasting, and simmering; eat mac & cheese after less than an hour
TASTES: eggplants, peppers, onion, and tomatoes roast to a rich pungency, coating your mouth with pleasure; how sharp is your cheddar? Your mac & cheese will showcase it.

Next time, I will cook the “Shrimp, Broccoli, and Scallion Fried Rice,” from theperfectpantry.com, along with “Japanese Asparagus Dengaku,” from the April 2009 issue of Vegetarian Times. See my meal when you come back to my site on Sunday, November 7.