My Lesson in Food Photography: A Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup Photo Shoot

I have been trying to get more creative with my food photos. I am fortunate to have great light in my kitchen which presents me with tons of opportunities but I find that my photos are frequently taken from the same vantage point – above.  I like shooting from this angle for a lot of my dishes and find myself scrambling up little ladders or perched on chairs to get that perfect shot. Summer luckily provides me with longer daylight hours but in winter I often find myself preparing food way in advance so as to be sure to shoot with natural light.  But it is time for a change – new vantage points, fresh eyes – I hope! I found this great Food Photography class online on a site called CreativeLive . The food photographer is named Penny de Los Santos with an incredible pedigree having worked for National Geographic and now for Saveur.  I have been learning tons (Only natural light! Introduce chaos into order!) If I could only take photos half as good as she. And I am only on day 1.  I have already learned how to improve on the 2 shots I am showing here….but watch out – a new perspective is born. Let me know how I am doing and if you see a photo you really like (or not), let me know so I can learn!

Given my kitchen is now littered with basket upon basket of tomatoes and eggplant, I decided to make a roasted tomato and eggplant soup last night.  Incredibly easy to make  and great both hot or cold.  Enjoy!

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup

1 large eggplant, cut into large chunks (somewhere between 1/2 and 3/4 inch chunks)

1/2 large red onion,  chopped

Tomatoes,  preferably plum tomatoes; about 3 pounds or enough to fill a rimmed baking sheet

8 cloves of garlic, peeled

About 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup basil leaves, plus additional for garnish

About 2 1/2 cups water or chicken stock


1. Heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Set two oven racks – one near top and one near bottom.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the tomatoes and garlic cloves.  Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt (about 1 teaspoon or to taste) and pepper (about 1/4 teaspoon or to taste). Stir to combine.  Pour as a single layer onto rimmed baking sheet. Place on top oven rack.  In same mixing bowl, combine the cubed eggplant and onion. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt  (about 1 teaspoon or to taste) and pepper (about 1/4 teaspoon or to taste). Stir to combine. Pour as a single layer onto a second rimmed backing sheet. Place on bottom oven rack. Roast until tender, about 40 minutes, stirring halfway through.

2. Using tongs, remove any tomato skins. Place tomato/garlic mixture and 1/2 of the eggplant/onion mixture in a food processor or blender.  Add in the basil. Puree until smooth.  Transfer to a large pot or dutch oven. Add in the remaining eggplant/onion mixture and stir to combine.  Thin with about 2 1/2 cups water  or chicken stock (or as needed). Stir and adjust seasonings.

3. Sprinkle with chopped basil and serve!

Join the Conversation

  1. I struggle with taking food photos, especially since my kitchen is not very well lit and I do most of my cooking later at night. I am looking forward to your pictures. Is that a towel reflected in the bowl? it looks nice!

    1. That is the towel reflected in the pot…thanks for the encouragement!

  2. looks good! the course sounds interesting. good luck! i always have lighting issues with my photos. been trying manual setting on my camera in hopes of getting better photos.

    1. Thanks trialsinfood! Yesterday I shot on manual for the first time …I agree about hoping to get better photos! Love your site and photos.

  3. Tom Braddock says:

    Nice Michele! You certainly DO cram a lot into your busy schedule, no?!
    The “mystery” patina on the outside of the pot had me more distracted than the soup! I assume it’s a somewhat worn pan, together with reflected table cloth and towel – neat effect! (and another idea of what to do with the eggplants I don’t feel like sweating with salt, draining, drying…yadda…yadda!)

    Tom B. – from the now oppressive hothouse of Tampa 🙁

    1. Hi Tom – It is actually a little copper pot and wasn’t intending to have the dishtowel reflect. Like how it looks but can’t decide if it is TOO distracting. Very fun …. hope temps cool down south. Finally a break up here! Michele

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