Prep 1 hr
Cook 1 hr 30 mins
Lidia Bastianich; Lidia’s Italy. Istria
- 1 1⁄2 lbs fresh asparagus spears
- 1⁄2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 plump garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
- 2 cups potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 3 cups chopped leeks, 1/4 inch pieces, white and green
- 5 quarts water
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt or 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 cup arborio rice
- fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 cup freshly grated grana padano or 1 cup parmigiano-reggiano cheese
- Rinse the asparagus; snap off the tough bottom stubs.
- Slice the spears crosswise into 1/3 inch chunks, including the tips.
- Pour 1/3 cup olive oil into a large pot, drop in the crushed garlic, and set over med-high heat.
- Golden the garlic for a minute or two, just until fragrant and lightly colored, and stir the potato cubes into the hot oil.
- Cook/stir occasionally, until the potatoes are crusty and starting to stick to the bottom but not browned—lower the heat if necessary—4-5 minutes.
- Stir in the chopped leeks; cook until softened and sizzling, 3-4 minutes.
- Pour 5 quarts water into the pot; add in the bay leaves and tablespoon salt; stir well, scraping up any crusty potatoes on the bottom.
- Cover, and bring to a boil over high heat; stir in all the asparagus, return to a boil, and adjust heat to keep the broth bubbling steadily and slowly reducing.
- Cook uncovered about 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally, until the soup volume is reduced by almost a third and the broth is full of flavor—tasting is the way to test for doneness.
- Stir in the rice and return to a boil; cook for 10 minutes, until the grains are al dente, then turn the heat off.
- Season with freshly ground black pepper, and more salt to taste.
- Stir in 2 tablespoons olive oil and ½ cup grated cheese.
- Serve immediately in warm bowls, with more cheese and oil at the table.