VEGETABLE SOUP, MILAN STYLE
Prep: 30 (plus soaking beans, if necessary) - Cook: 2:00
Vegetarian with vegetable broth
A rustic country soup that should be served hot in winter and cool in summer. Takes time to prepare, but the results are worth it - recruit somebody to help you prepare the vegetables. Serve with fresh Italian bread, no butter. It makes a pleasant summer or autumn soup, using almost any fresh vegetables in season.
2 saucepans (rice and soup cooked separate), 1 skillet.
- 1 pound fresh borlotti or cranberry beans, shelled to yield 8 oz; (see note below), or 1 15 1/2 oz canned beans
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 8 oz tomatoes, peeled and seeded
- 8 oz cabbage, shredded
- 8 oz carrots, scraped, cubed
- 1 large potato, peeled and diced
- 8 oz string beans, cut in pieces, or fresh green peas
- 1 T chopped fresh parsley
- coarse salt to taste
- 3 T extra virgin olive oil, plus some in addition for serving
- 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1 rib celery, trimmed, coarsely chopped
- 8 ounces small zucchini, scrubbed, cut in half, and sliced thin
- 1 large ripe tomato, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
- 4 oz rice, Arborio if possible
- chopped fresh basil to taste
- freshly grated Parmesan cheese to taste
- freshly ground pepper to taste
NOTE: Five ounces dried white beans may be substituted for the borlotti. Soak overnight and cook until tender. Add to broth with vegetables.
- Bring broth to a boil in a soup kettle.
- If using fresh beans, add the beans and cook for 30 minutes. If using canned, add with rest of fresh ingredients.
- Puree the 8 ounces tomatoes in a blender.
- Add to the beans, along with cabbage, carrots, potato, string beans or peas, and parsley; add salt to taste.
- Cook for 30 minutes.
- Heat the 3 tablespoons oil in a saucepan and cook the onion and garlic on low heat until golden.
- To same pan, add the celery, zucchini, and chopped tomato and cook for 15 minutes.
- Add to the bean mixture and simmer for 30 minutes.
- In a separate pan, cook the rice until al dente, about 18 minutes, then drain.
- Pour 2 cups cold water over to stop the cooking process, then drain again.
- Drain once more on a tea towel.
- To serve hot, bring soup to a boil, add the rice and serve at once.
- To serve tepid, add rice to the cooled soup and mix. Serve in individual bowls (terra cotta if possible) with chopped basil.
- Pass freshly grated Parmesan, olive oil, and a pepper mill.
Italian Cooking in the Grand Tradition
Jo Bettoja and Anna Maria Cornetto
The Dial Press