Minestrone


Serves 6-8

¼lb (115g) of dried haricot beans, 2 carrots, 2 small potatoes, a small turnip, 2 onions, a piece of celery, 4 tomatoes, half a small cabbage, 2 rashers of bacon, garlic, herbs and seasoning, olive oil, a small glassful of red wine, 2oz (55g) of broken-up macaroni or spaghetti, or pastine, or any of the pasta made in small shapes, such as little stars, little shells, etc

Put the haricot beans to soak overnight. Next day prepare all the vegetables, and melt the sliced onions in the oil, adding 2 cloves of garlic, the bacon cut into pieces, and plenty of herbs, marjoram, thyme, basil, or whatever may be available; add the chopped tomatoes, or a tablespoonful of concentrated tomato purée; pour in the red wine, let it bubble a minute or two, then add the drained haricot beans; cover them with 3 pints of hot water and let them boil steadily for two hours. Now put in the carrots and about 15 minutes later the turnip and potatoes. Ten minutes before serving, add the celery, the cabbage cut into strips, and the pasta. See that the soup is properly seasoned, stir in 2 tablespoonfuls of grated parmesan, and serve more parmesan separately.

Risotto with lemon
Serves 4 as a first course or 3 as a main
chicken or vegetable stock 1¼ litres
unsalted butter 60g
olive oil 1 tbsp
shallots 2, very finely chopped
celery stick 1, very finely chopped
Italian rice 300g, preferably Arborio
organic lemon ½
fresh sage leaves 5 or 6
fresh rosemary leaves a small sprig
egg yolk 1
parmesan 4 tbsp, freshly grated
double cream 4 tbsp
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring the stock to a gentle simmer (keep it simmering all through the cooking of the rice).
Heat half the butter, the oil, shallots and celery in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and sauté until the soffritto – frying mixture – of shallot and celery is softened (about 7 minutes). Mix in the rice and continue to sauté, stirring, until the rice is well coated with the fats and is partly translucent.

Pour over about 150ml of the simmering stock. Stir very thoroughly and cook until the rice has absorbed nearly all of the stock, still stirring.

Add another ladleful of simmering stock, and continue in this manner until the rice is ready. You may not need all the stock. Good-quality Italian rice for risotto takes 15-20 minutes to cook.

Meanwhile, thinly pare the zest from the lemon half and chop it with the herbs. Mix into the rice halfway through the cooking.

Squeeze the half lemon into a small bowl and combine it with the egg yolk, parmesan, cream, a little salt and a very generous grinding of black pepper. Mix well with a fork.

When the rice is al dente, draw the pan off the heat and stir in the egg and cream mixture and the remaining butter. Cover the pan and leave to rest for 2 minutes or so. Then give the risotto an energetic stir, transfer to a heated dish or bowl and serve at once, with more grated parmesan in a little bowl if you wish.