1 medium to large eggplant
2 tablespoons EVOO, plus more for liberal drizzling
Salt and pepper
1 head garlic, top cut off to expose the cloves
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup dry white or red wine
1 (32-ounce) can fire-roasted tomatoes: whole, diced, or crushed
4 cups chicken stock
A few leaves of fresh basil, torn, plus more for garnish
Crumbled or grated ricotta salata or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Halve the eggplant lengthwise and score the flesh deeply in a diamond pattern. Drizzle enough EVOO onto a rimmed baking sheet to coat. Season the eggplant with salt and pepper and arrange cut side down in the EVOO. Drizzle the garlic with EVOO, season with salt and pepper, wrap in a foil pouch, and place on the baking sheet. Roast the eggplant and garlic until very tender, about 40 minutes. Cool to handle.
In a Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons EVOO (2 turns of the pan) over medium-high heat. Add the onion, red pepper flakes, thyme, and salt and pepper. Stir to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir 1 minute. Deglaze with the wine. Add the tomatoes and stock. Scrape the eggplant away from the skin and add to the soup. Squish the garlic out of its skins into the soup. Add the basil. Puree the soup with an immersion blender (or in batches in a regular blender). Partially cover and simmer to thicken a bit.
Make-ahead: Cool and refrigerate.
Night of: Return the soup to room temp before reheating gently over medium heat.
Serve the soup topped with basil and cheese.