Cooking Rice with an Italian Accent! (3 page)

5 leaves fresh basil, chopped

¼
cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped

4 tablespoons half-and-half or light cream

4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a large (6-quart) saucepan, sauté the onions for five minutes in melted butter. Add the lettuce and peas. Cook uncovered for ten minutes on moderate heat. Add the bouillon and pinch of salt. Add the water and bring to boil. When the water is boiling, add the rice and cook on simmer for fifteen minutes, stirring often. Add the basil, parsley, cream, and grated cheese. Stir well. Pour into a preheated soup tureen and bring to table.

RECOMMENDED WINES:

LUGANA DEL VENETO, TREBBIANO/MALVASIA BLEND

 

Minestra Delicata di Riso

(DELICATE RICE SOUP)

SERVES 4

Legendary Verona is the location of Shakespeare's tragic play,
Romeo and Juliet
. At its center is a Roman amphitheater that has been in constant use for over two thousand years. It has a lively and lovely open-air market, near which I first tasted this delicate and beautiful rice soup

1 tablespoon butter

1 medium white onion, thinly sliced

2 small heads romaine lettuce, outer leaves removed (save for salad) leaving only the white tender hearts, washed, dried, and torn into small pieces

1 large potato, peeled and diced small

10-ounce package frozen peas, completely thawed

2 quarts boiling hot chicken stock

1 cup long-grain rice

2 tablespoons dry white wine

1 heaping tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Grated cheese for the table (either Parmesan or Pecorino)

In a large saucepan, sauté onion in butter on gentle heat for five minutes. Add lettuce and sauté five more minutes. Add diced potatoes. Stir with wooden spoon. Add peas. Cook for three minutes. Add hot stock. Simmer on low heat uncovered for twenty-five minutes. Add rice, stir, and simmer for eighteen minutes. Add wine, grated cheese, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Stir well. Pour into a tureen and bring to the table. Provide more grated cheese to pass at table.
Ottimo!
(The best!)

RECOMMENDED WINES:

BIANCO DI CUSTOZA, SOAVE

 

Minestra di Riso con Fegatini di Pollo

(RICE SOUP WITH CHICKEN LIVERS)

SERVES 4

Chicken livers have a mild, pleasant flavor in this robust soup. (Have you noticed that you have to buy chicken livers separately these days? I mean separate from the whole chicken. What used to get thrown to the family cat in the old days, now we get to pay a premium price.) This is an earnest soup that I'm sure you'll all enjoy. If the kids ask what the meat is in the soup, tell them chicken. That's not a lie. The livers did come from chickens.

½ large onion, thinly sliced

1 bunch fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

3½ ounces dried porcini mushrooms, rehydrated and minced

3½ ounces chicken livers, chopped coarsely

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon dry white wine

½ cup any long-grain rice

1½ quarts beef stock

Grated Parmesan cheese to pass at table

Sauté the onion and parsley in oil and butter in a large saucepan on low heat for five minutes. Add mushrooms and cook five minutes. Add chicken livers and stir well. Season with salt and pepper. Add wine and cook until it evaporates. Add rice, stir well. Add all the broth. Bring to boil, lower to simmer and cook for fifteen minutes. Serve the soup very hot and pass the grated cheese at table.

RECOMMENDED WINES:

DOLCETTO D'ASTI, LAMBRUSCO DI GRASPAROSSA

 

Minestra di Riso con Cavolo Rosso

(RICE SOUP WITH RED CABBAGE)

SERVES 4

This is another hearty soup from the extreme north of Italy on the Austrian border. It is a soup that would be spoiled with the addition of grated cheese. I asked for grated cheese and was told “Absolutely not!” Red cabbage is also very good in a salad and makes an excellent sauerkraut.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1
½
ounces pancetta or bacon, minced

2 medium onions, finely chopped

1 small red cabbage, cut in half and julienned

2 large peeled potatoes, diced small

2 tablespoons tomato paste, dissolved in ½ cup dry white wine

1½ quarts boiling hot chicken or beef broth

½ cup long-grain rice

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large saucepan on moderate heat, and sauté the pancetta and the onions for eight minutes. Add cabbage and stir for five minutes. Add tomato paste dissolved in wine. Add all the boiling hot broth. Adjust heat to low and simmer covered for one hour. Stir in rice and cook covered for fifteen minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into tureen and bring to table. Genuine rye bread and a glass of beer make this a great meal.

RECOMMENDED WINES:

REFOSCO, SCHIOPETTINO

 

Crema di Riso e Zucca

(CREAM OF RICE AND PUMPKIN SOUP)

SERVES 4

This is an unusual and enticing first course to put on your Thanksgiving table. It goes well with the roasted turkey and all the other trimmings. It will get rave reviews from your family and guests.

½ large onion, minced

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 can of unflavored pumpkin puree

1 quart boiling hot chicken stock

1 beef bouillon cube dissolved in ½ cup hot water

10 ounces long-grain rice

1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

1 tablespoon sugar

5 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Sauté onion in olive oil in a large saucepan. Cook on gentle heat five minutes. Add pumpkin and hot stock. Mix well and cook on gentle heat for ten minutes. Add the dissolved bouillon, bring to a boil. Add rice and parsley, and cook for fifteen minutes. Add sugar and stir. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon grated cheese. Empty into soup tureen, sprinkle with remaining cheese, and serve.

RECOMMENDED WINES:

TOCAI FRIULANO, PINOT BIANCO

 

Minestra di Riso con Broccoletti

(RICE SOUP WITH BROCCOLI FLORETS)

SERVES 4

Remember what the medical profession is saying about the cancer preventatives found in the cruciferous vegetables, especially broccoli. This soup is a delightful way of enjoying broccoli and is perfect for a cold winter night's supper.

1 medium onion, peeled and diced

1 large clove garlic, peeled and crushed

4 tablespoons butter

1 bunch of broccoli, florets only

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1
½
quarts boiling hot chicken broth

1 cup long-grain rice

4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Sauté onion and garlic in 2 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan on gentle heat for five minutes. Add broccoli and stir-fry for five minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the tomato paste dissolved in a cup of broth. Stir and cook for ten minutes. Add remaining broth, bring to boil, adjust heat to simmer, and cook for twenty minutes. Add rice, stir, and cook for twenty more minutes. Stir. Add 2 tablespoons butter and grated cheese. Stir and serve. Excellent!

RECOMMENDED WINES:

CHARDONNAY DELL'UMBRIA, MERLOT DI APRILIA

 

Minestra di Riso e Fagiolini

(RICE AND GREEN BEAN SOUP)

SERVES 4

When I visited Parma, I stayed in one of the most beautiful hotels I've ever seen. It was the Baglioni Palace Hotel (five stars). I could hardly believe its sumptuous luxury. But it made me yearn for simplicity, so I walked through the beautiful city of Parma, stopped at the church of Santa Maria Stecchata, and thanked God for allowing me to be there. Then I meandered through the open-air food market and nearby found a simple family-owned restaurant (trattoria). My yearning for simplicity was satisfied as I sampled this flavorful dish.

2 tablespoons butter

1 medium onion peeled and thinly sliced

6 ounces tender green beans, washed and cut into ½-inch pieces

4 large potatoes, peeled and diced small

1½-quarts water

2 beef bouillon cubes, crushed

1 cup long-grain rice

1 large egg

Juice of ½ fresh lemon

Pinch of salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

2 heaping tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons light cream

Melt butter in a large saucepan on moderate heat. Sauté onion for five minutes. Add green beans. Adjust heat to low and sauté for eight minutes. Add potatoes and sauté another eight minutes. Add water and bouillon. Bring to boil. Adjust heat to low and simmer covered for forty minutes. Add rice and cook covered another twenty minutes.

Meanwhile, in a soup tureen beat together the egg, lemon juice, parsley, light cream, Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper.

When soup is done, whisk egg mixture for one minute and pour into soup in the tureen. Add cream, stir briskly, and bring to table.

RECOMMENDED WINES:

ALBANA DI ROMAGNA, SAUVIGNON BLANC

 

Minestra di Riso, Rape, e Porri

(RICE, TURNIP, AND LEEK SOUP)

SERVES 4

The
broccoli di rape
in the
Risotto con Verdure Miste
is a close cousin to the turnip. In fact, the seeds of
broccoli di rape
are cold-pressed to produce canola oil, an excellent cholesterol-free cooking oil. (It is called Puritan oil in the United States.) This hearty soup is chock-full of turnips, leeks, onion, and potatoes. It is a vegetarian's dream come true. And it tastes terrific!

2 tablespoons butter

1 medium onion, minced

3 small turnips, peeled and diced

5 leeks, white bulbs only, trimmed of roots, quartered and washed under cold running water several times, then thinly sliced

2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced

Salt and pepper to taste

2 quarts boiling hot chicken stock

½ cup long-grain rice

½ cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

2 heaping tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a large saucepan, sauté onion, turnips, leeks, and potatoes in butter on gentle heat for ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper. Add all the hot chicken stock, cover, and cook on simmer for twenty minutes. Add rice, stir, and cook covered for another twenty minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in parsley and grated cheese. Pour into a tureen and bring to table. If the dinner guests ask for more grated cheese, for goodness sake, give it to them. You want your guests to be happy, don't you?

RECOMMENDED WINES:

SYLVANER, TOCAI FRIULANO

 

Minestra di Riso con Spinaci e Uova

(RICE SOUP WITH SPINACH AND EGGS)

SERVES 4

I am sure we all remember that kids usually detested spinach. Then along came Popeye, the likable little sailor who beat all the odds against him whenever he ate his spinach. I remember when I was in the seminary, canned spinach was often served in the refectory (dinning hall). It looked like seaweed and tasted like the tin can it came out of. One day, my mama made this spinach and rice soup. It has the magical quality of changing spinach haters into spinach lovers.

2 tablespoons olive oil (the real stuff, not Popeye's girlfriend)

1 large clove peeled garlic, left whole

1 20-ounce package frozen spinach, cooked to package directions, cooled and almost squeezed dry

1 quart boiling hot chicken broth

1 cup long-grain rice

1 large egg

2 heaping tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil on moderate heat. Add the whole clove of garlic and sauté until golden brown. Discard garlic. Add spinach, stir. Add hot broth. Add rice, stir, and bring to boil. Cook covered for fifteen minutes. Meantime, beat the egg with the grated cheese in a soup tureen. Pour soup into the tureen and stir vigorously to cook the egg. Bring to table and have more grated Parmesan to pass around.

RECOMMENDED WINES:

PINOT GRIGIO, BARDOLINO

 

Risi e Bisi

(RICE AND PEA SOUP)

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