Zucchini and Potato Minestra
Minestra di Zucchini e Patate

serves: 8 servings

Stock will make much more flavorful soup, but if you do not have any handy, use canned broth or even water - the soup will still be quite good. When using canned stock for this soup, I always dilute it by half with water. In most cases, the flavor of the canned broth is too pronounced when taken straight and masks the fresh vegetal flavor of the other ingredients.

ingredients
10 cups chicken stock
½ ounce porcini mushrooms, dried about 2/3 cup)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large Yukon Gold or Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
2 small leeks, white parts only, trimmed, cleanedm and chopped
2 medium carrots, trimmed, peeled, and coarsely shredded
salt
2 fresh or dried bay leaves
freshly ground black pepper
1 pound small fancy zucchini, washed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup arborio rice, or other short grain rice
½ cup fresh Italian Parsely, chopped
¼ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated

directions


Pour 1 cup of the hot stock over the dried porcini mushrooms in a small bowl. Let stand until the porcini are softened, about 20 minutes. Drain the porcinini, straining the soaking liquid through a coffee filter or a sieve lined with a double thickness of cheesecloth. Pour the strained soaking liquid into the remaining stock. Rinse the soaked mushrooms thoroughly to remove any sand and grit. Drain the mushrooms well and chop them fine.

Heat the olive oil in a deep, heavy 4- to 5-quart pot over medium heat. Add the potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to stick and are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. If necessary, adjust the level of heat to prevent the bits of potato that stick from getting too dark. Stir in the leeks and carrots, and season the vegetables lightly with salt, and cook, stirring, until the leeks are softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Pour in the hot stock and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, scraping up the bits of potato that stick to the pot. Adjust the level of heat to simmer and season the soup lightly with salt and pepper. Cover the pot and simmer 15 minutes. Stir in the zucchini cover the pot, and continue cooking until the potatoes and zucchini are very tender, about 15 minutes.

Stir in the rice. Cook, stirring well, until the rice is al dente - tender but still firm, about 14 minutes. Remove the bay leaves. Stir the parsley into the soup and check the seasoning, adding salt and pepper if necessary. Ladle the soup into warm bowls and sprinkle each serving with some of the grated cheese.