Minestrone with Arborio Rice
- SERVINGS: 4
There are many versions of minestrone as there are cooks in Italy, but the soup always contains a wide variety of vegetables and usually includes beans and either pasta or rice. If you happen to have the rind from a chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano, throw that into the soup pot as well. The arborio rice here soaks up and also thickens the liquid; if the soup gets too thick, don't hesitate to add water or more stock.
- 1/4 cup plus 4 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 2 ribs celery, sliced
- 1 zucchini, cut in quarters lengthwise and then crosswise into thin slices
- 3/4 pound green cabbage (about 1/4 head), shredded (about 3 cups)
- 1 1/2 quarts canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
- 1 2/3 cups drained and rinsed canned pinto beans (one 15-ounce can)
- 1/2 cup arborio rice
- 3/4 pound boiling potatoes (about 2), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
- In a large pot, heat the 1/4 cup oil over moderate heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, carrots, and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the zucchini and cabbage. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to soften, about 5 minutes longer.
- Add the broth, beans, rice, potatoes, tomato paste, bay leaf, thyme, and salt to the pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the rice and vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaf.
- Stir the pepper into the soup. Sprinkle each bowlful with Parmesan and drizzle each with 1 teaspoon of the remaining oil.
Salice Salentino, a rich and rustic red from southern Italy's Apulia, is a heartwarming match for this familiar classic. The wine is produced in vast quantities, making it a snap to find.