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This is one of the recipes that has been provided by Shirley Cline from San Francisco in response to my quest for recipes using Balsamic Vinegar. (You can contact Shirley by emailing her - click here).

Shirley says: "This recipe comes from Biba's Northern Italian Cooking. I have made this and we all like it a lot".


1/2 cup dry white beans
4 Tblsp. butter
1 cup fresh green peas (about 1 lb. unshelled)
1 cup diced unpeeled but scrubbed zucchini (about 1/2 lb.)
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced potatoes
1/3 cup thinly sliced celery
2 oz. salt pork, diced
2 Tblsp. finely chopped onions
1/2 cup finely chopped leeks
1 lb. fresh tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 quarts chicken stock, fresh or canned
1 bay leaf and 2 parsley sprigs, tied together
1 tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup plain white raw rice

1 Tblsp. finely cut fresh basil or tsp. dried basil, crumbled
1 Tblsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp. finely chopped garlic
1/2 cup freshly grated imported Parmesan cheese

  • Bring 1 quart of water to a bubbling boil in a heavy 3 to 4 quart saucepan. Add the 1/2 cup of beans (either Great Northern, white kidney, or navy) and boil them briskly for 2 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and let the beans soak undisturbed in the water for 1 hour. Then, return the pan to the stove and, over low heat, simmer the beans uncovered for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until they are barely tender. Drain the beans thoroughly and set them aside in a bowl.
  • Melt the butter over moderate heat in a heavy 10 to 12 inch skillet. When the foam subsides, add the peas, zucchini, carrots, potatoes and celery. Tossing constantly with a wooden spoon, cook 2 or 3 minutes until they are lightly coated with butter but not browned. Set aside.
  • Tender the salt pork dice by frying them in a 6 to 8 quart soup pot or Dutch oven over moderate heat, stirring frequently. When the salt pork is crisp and brown, lift out with a slotted spoon and set aside to drain on paper towels.
  • Stir the onions and leeks (or if leeks are unavailable, substitute another 1/2 cup of onions) into the fat remaining in the pot and cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes until the vegetables are soft and lightly browned.
  • Stir in the coarsely chopped tomatoes, the vegetables from the skillet, the chicken stock, the bay leaf and parsley sprigs, salt and a few grindings of pepper. Bring the soup to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat and simmer partially covered for 25 minutes.
  • Remove and discard the bay leaf and parsley sprigs, add the rice, white beans and salt pork dice and cook for about 15 - 20 minutes longer, or until the rice is tender.
  • Taste the soup and season it with salt and pepper if needed.
  • Serve, sprinkled with the herb and garlic garnish. Pass a bowl of the grated cheese separately.

Serves 8

Shirley Cline