Asparagus, rice and pancetta soup

Asparagus, rice and pancetta soup

By
From
My Favourite Ingredients
Serves
4
Photographer
Jason Lowe

Rather more of a really wet sloppy risotto than a soup, this is one of my all-time favourite recipes. It is rich and robust, with its roots definitely earthbound. Very, very satisfying…

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
50ml extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
2 red onions, peeled and finely chopped
small bunch thyme, leaves only
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
5 slices pancetta, chopped into small pieces
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
100g white rice
1 litre good chicken stock
500ml water
12 green asparagus spears
100g parmesan, finely grated
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Method

  1. Warm the olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan large enough to hold all the ingredients comfortably. Add the onions, thyme and a pinch of salt and sweat over a gentle heat for 10 minutes until the onions are soft, sweet and translucent.
  2. Add the pancetta pieces with the garlic and cook for a further 5–10 minutes, then add the rice and stir well. Immediately pour in the stock and water, and bring to a simmer. Turn down the heat to fairly low, cover the pan and cook until the rice is nutty to the bite; this will take about 20 minutes.
  3. While the rice is cooking, prepare the asparagus. Snap off and discard the woody ends, peel the lower part of the stems, then slice the stalks on the diagonal into short lengths. Add the asparagus to the soup and cook for 2–3 minutes until it is just tender. Add the Parmesan and stir. Season to taste with plenty of black pepper and a good pinch of salt.
  4. Ladle the soup into warm soup plates, sprinkle with the parsley and drizzle with a generous spoonful of extra virgin olive oil.
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