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Minestrone is so strongly associated with winter that it may come as a surprise that it is also eaten during the summer months. In warm weather, it is served at room temperature with a generous amount of fresh basil stirred into it.
A special feature of this recipe is the big spoonful of sweet, rich sun-dried tomato paste that is added as the soup cooks. This soup thickens as it cools, becoming quite dense and not a bit brothy. Get a big spoon and dig in.
Serves 4 to 6
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
1 onion, peeled and finely diced
3 medium tomatoes, peeled seeded and diced
2 celery stalks, strings removed, diced
2 medium carrots, trimmed, peeled, and diced
2 medium zucchini, trimmed and diced
1/4 pound green beans, ends trimmed, cut into dice
2 medium boiling potatoes, peeled and diced
Salt to taste
6 cups water
1 tablespoon sun-dried tomato paste
1/2 cup Arborio rice
1 cup cooked borlotti or cannellini beans
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
1 bunch basil, leaves chopped, divided
1/4 cup freshly grated imported Parmesan cheese, plus additional for the table
In a soup pot, combine the olive oil, garlic, and onion. Sauté over low heat until the onion is tender.
Add the tomatoes, celery, carrots, zucchini, green beans, and potatoes. Add salt to taste. Stir well and let vegetables cook for a few minutes.
Add the water and tomato paste. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a slow simmer and cook covered for about 1 hour.
Add the rice, beans, parsley, and half the basil. Cook, uncovered, at a simmer, stirring often, for 12 minutes, or until the rice is about three quarters done. The rice will continue to cook as the soup cools.
Off the heat, stir in the remaining basil and grated Parmesan cheese. Ladle into shallow soup bowls. Serve when the soup cools to room temperature.
Have additional Parmesan cheese at the table.
From: Verdura, Vegetables Italian Style by Viana La Place
Grubb Street; paperback; 320pp; stg£12.99. Publication 29th July 2010