Minestra Aromatica, Potato and Arborio Rice Soup with Aromatics

This beautiful recipe is perfect for the early days of a new year when the desire for bright vibrant flavours vies for attention with the long walk towards the spring. This year, more than ever before, I have looked to silence and reflection these past few weeks, a quiet time in order to process everything that is happening in our world. Times are tough. Of that there is no doubt but generous bowls of goodness such as this are a tincture for the soul designed to gently lead us out of the darkness into the light.

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
A generous knob of butter
Half a white onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp fennel seeds
4 medium Maris Piper potatoes, peeled and cut into 1.5cm cubes
100g Arborio rice
1.5 litres good vegetable stock
60g wild rocket, two thirds of it roughly chopped
A handful of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
12 basil leaves, slivered (optional)
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground mixed peppercorns
1 lemon, zested and juiced

How I make it

Place a large pan over a medium heat and add the olive oil and butter. When the butter is melted, turn the heat down, add the chopped onion and sauté for a few minutes until they are cooked through but not brown. Add the garlic, chilli and fennel seeds and stir around for a couple of minutes.

Add the potatoes and the rice to the mixture and cover with the stock. Bring back up to the boil and allow to simmer until the potato and rice are cooked through, around 15-20 minutes.

Add the chopped rocket and parsley. Allow to cook for a few more minutes, add as much lemon juice as you like and then season to your taste.

Divide the soup between four bowls and garnish with the remaining rocket, lemon zest and basil leaves (if using). Serve immediately with generous wedges of warm rustic bread.

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