Tomato & rice soup

Tomato & rice soup

By
From
Sicily
Serves
6-8

Originally all rice was brown, before mills were designed to remove the husk and polish the grains. It is much better for you as it is the whole grain and I much prefer the taste of brown rice. This is real peasant soup; add what vegetables are in season or what you have at the back of the fridge. The soup is fabulous on its own but with the topping it’s sublime. The breadcrumbs were a way of mimicking grated cheese on a dish when poverty made this unaffordable. I was really impressed by the use of the Sicilian estrattu, a seriously concentrated salty tomato purée, on our visits there. It is an ingredient like Worcestershire sauce in the UK or soy sauce in Asia – it just makes everything taste better. We have replaced it with tomato purée (tomato paste) but if you are on a trip to Sicily do grab some; it is so rich and deep in wonderful umami flavour. As it is salty, don’t add any salt to the cooking if you are using it.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1 large onion, roughly chopped
3 celery stalks, roughly chopped
3 small carrots, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chicken fat
or 2 tablespoons olive oil
salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes, (optional)
2 tablespoons estrattu or tomato puree
2 litres warm chicken or vegetable stock
150g brown rice
1 x 400g tin whole plum tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 piece parmesan rind, (optional)
100g baby spinach leaves

For the breadcrumb topping

Quantity Ingredient
1 small handful parsley
1 slice gluten-free or wheat bread
1 small garlic clove, peeled
salt
freshly ground black pepper
35g parmesan, finely grated
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Method

  1. Fry the onion, celery and carrots in the oil and chicken fat (if using) in a large saucepan over a medium heat until they start to soften. Season well with salt and pepper and the chilli flakes, if using. In a small bowl soften the estrattu with a little of the warm stock. Add to the pan with the remaining stock, the rice, tomatoes, bay leaves and rind of Parmesan, if using. Use a potato masher to break up the tomatoes to a pulp. Leave to cook for around 25 minutes or until the rice is cooked and softened.
  2. Meanwhile, make the breadcrumbs for the topping. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Whizz the parsley with the bread, garlic and some seasoning in a food processor to make fine breadcrumbs. Pour them into a bowl and stir through the Parmesan and olive oil. Spread onto a baking tray and cook in the oven for 5–7 minutes or until the breadcrumbs become crunchy. Remove from the oven and tip onto a plate to cool.
  3. When the rice is cooked, stir in the spinach leaves – they will wilt easily in the heat. Serve the soup in warmed bowls topped with the breadcrumbs.
Tags:
Italy
Italian
Sicily
Sicilian
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