In Lombardy a thick minestrone with rice is most often eaten in summer, served cold. The rice is only minimally cooked, as it continues to cook when poured into the soup bowls. If the soup is to be served hot, the rice is cooked for 16 - 25 minutes and the minestrone is then served immediately.
1 cup (6oz/185g) dried borlotti (red) beans
2oz (60g) pancetta or rindless bacon, finely chopped
1 medium-size onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons (1 1/2oz/40g) butter
2 celery stalks, diced
2 medium-size carrots, diced
2 zucchini (courgettes), diced
2 medium-size boiling potatoes, diced
salt and freshly ground pepper
4 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste (puree)
8 cups (2qt/21) meat broth (stock)
1 cup green beans, cut into short lengths
1/2 cup Arborio (short grain) rice
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
6 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Large, heavy pot with cover.
SOAK borlotti beans overnight in cold water to cover; drain. Combine bacon, onion and butter in a large saucepan and cook over medium heat until golden, stirring frequently.
ADD the celery, carrots, zucchini, red beans and potatoes, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, broth and green beans and bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered, for 2 hours.
ADD rice and cook uncovered over high heat for 5 - 25 minutes.
Pour soup into bowls and stir 1 tablespoon Parmesan into each. Cool completely before serving.