Dandelion and Rice Soup

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Even in sunny South Florida, the occasional “under the weather” day can happen, when nothing is as comforting as homemade soup.

Every weekend at the farmers’ market, I routinely buy dandelion greens, whether I have an intended use for them or not.  These are grown by a local farm and are firm, sturdy, bitter and absolutely delicious.  They are so hearty and versatile–I like to use them both raw, as a salad, or cooked, as in tonight’s dish.

The traditional Roman way of serving dandelion  (and so many other green vegetables) is to boil, then saute with garlic and chili pepppers (see my Ciccoria ala Romana).   This week, however, I’m in the mood for something a little more comforting and soupier,  which will feature the greens as a main course.   Some diced ham from my local gourmet market, plus the usual risotto ingredients, made a perfectly rich and satisfying soup worthy of sharing with you.

I made this soup using the standard risotto technique, but added much more broth than usual at the end.  The broth takes in the combination of butter, white wine, smokey ham and bitter greens.  It keeps well and can be reheated with additional broth (or just salted water, if you’ve run out of broth).

Dandelion and Rice Soup

serves 4

1 c diced ham

1 large bunch dandelion greens, cleaned and cut crosswise into 1″pieces

2 bouillon cubes or 2 tbls of chcken base (I use “Better than Bouillon” organic chicken flavor).

2 small shallots

3 tbls butter

1 c arborio rice

1/2 c white wine

7 – 8 c water

salt to taste

Bring the water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon of salt.  Drop in the dandelion greens and simmer for approximately 8 minutes.

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Remove and drain.

Add bouilon to liquid, dissolve and keep the broth simmering.

In another pot large enough to hold the soup, on low heat, saute the shallots and ham in butter for approximately 5 minutes.

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Add wine and continue cooking to evaporate, approximately 1 minute.

Begin adding broth 1 cup at a time, and continue cooking and adding broth every couple of minutes for 12 minutes.

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Add the dandelion greens and cook for another 3 minutes, until all has returned to the boil.

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Cover and leave off the heat for 5 minutes.

Add additional broth and salt (to taste).  Serve with plenty of grated parmigiano.

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