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Prep 30 mins
Cook 35 mins
This is a GREAT soup. This recipe is for 4 to 6 servings; however, it could be a meal by itself for 2 to 3 people & served with a crusty bread.
- 1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup finely chopped onion
- 1 cup finely chopped leek
- 1 cup finely chopped celery
- 2 cups finely chopped carrots
- 2 cups finely chopped cabbage (preferably Savoy)
- 1 cup green beans, cut into 1/2 inch lengths
- 2 cups of 1/2 inch cubes of peeled boiling potatoes
- 1⁄2 cup finely chopped prosciutto
- 1 cup of 1/2 inch cubes of unpeeled zucchini
- 1 cup chopped rinsed fresh stemmed spinach
- 2⁄3 cup chopped fresh tomatoes or 2⁄3 cup canned tomato
- 1⁄2 cup tomato sauce
- 6 cups chicken broth or 6 cups beef broth
- 3⁄4 cup rice (preferably short grain Arborio)
- 2 cups cooked dried cannellini beans (or canned)
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary (crushed)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1⁄4 cup minced fresh parsley
- 1⁄2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- salt & freshly ground black pepper
- grated parmesan cheese (to garnish) (optional)
- crusty garlic bread (optional)
- In a large stock or soup pot, over medium heat, heat the 1/4 cup of olive oil.
- Add the onion, leek, celery, carrots, cabbage, green beans & potatoes & stir for 2 minutes.
- Add the prosciutto, zucchini, spinach, tomatoes & tomato sauce & stir for another 2 minutes.
- Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil & then simmer, covered, over low heat for 15 minutes.
- Add the rice & beans & simmer, uncovered for 15 minutes or until the rice is tender.
- Remove the soup from the heat.
- In a small skillet, sautè the rosemary and oregano in the 2 tablespoons of olive oil for 30 seconds.
- Add this to the soup along with the parsley & cheese.
- Season with salt & pepper to taste & serve immediately with a crusty garlic bread.
- Garnish with more grated cheese if desired.
This delicious vegetable soup is an important part of the Northern Italian repertoire. Naturally, there is a lot of latitude in a recipe such as this one in terms of ingredients and quantities. For personal preference I leave out green beans, peas and prosciutto, but I think leeks and spinach are inspired choices. I prefer pinto beans (fagioli borlotti) to canellini. I also don't use extravirgin oil, since it has a definite taste and body which is incompatible with this soup. I do add a big pat of butter to the regular olive oil. The method could be enhanced by adding the vegetables sequentially to the saute, each for two minutes. The broth could be a mixture of dilute beef, chicken or vegetable stock. The soup should not be served hothothot. It is best served comfortably warm in the winter, and in the summer it can be served tepid or even at room temperature, making it a pleasant alternative to pasta. If you let your soup cool down a bit, though, the rice will suck up all the broth and become too thick. Thus, if you add rice, cook it for only 5-10 minutes before turning off the heat, or even cook it separately and stir it in just before serving. My major criticisms, though, are two: 1) it needs to be cooked on low heat for MUCH longer, at least two hours before adding the beans. The vegetables should be soft; 2) the flavored oil is not traditional, particularly the oregano, and not helpful. Bean-based Tuscan soups may be served with flavored oil, but never alla milanese. A little chopped fresh basil added just before serving would be OK.