asparagus rice soup with cacio d’roma (minestra di asparagi e riso)

April 22, 2013 § 9 Comments

One of the many reasons to love April is the availability of large tender asparagus, a sure sign of spring.  I pick up bushels of asparagus when it is in season.  One of my favorite recipes is a quick steam and a drizzle of olive oil and salt for a simple side dish or tossed in a salad.

The weather in Seattle has been gray, rainy and cold now for several days.  In weather like this I hunger for soup. Today I decided I would make soup with the asparagus I brought home.  To give credit where it is due, I pulled an old italian vegetable recipe book off the shelf…


The asparagus-rice soup recipe I found in Verdura is remarkable.  Simple and satisfying.  It is a fresh springtime soup.  The arborio rice adds a pleasant chewy texture and the cacio d’roma cheese, which melts into the soup gives the soup a satisfying creaminess.

I made a few minor modifications to the recipe.  For one, the recipe called for a specific italian cheese, caciocavallo.  Caciocavallo is delightfully formed in a ball between two cheese forms and bound together with a rope.  You may find it in your specialty cheese market looking like a little teardrop hanging from a horizontal stick or branch.  It’s flavor is similar to provolone cheese.  Instead I chose cacio d’roma, another lovable southern italian cheese.  It’s made of sheep’s milk.  Quite mild in flavor, similar to Manchego, with a pliable texture instead of dry.  It is considered a very good melting cheese, which is why I chose it for this soup.


asparagus rice soup with cacio d’roma

  • 1 pound asparagus
  • 8 cups water
  • salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small sweet yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped italian parsley
  • 1/2 cup arborio rice
  • 3 ounces cacio d’roma cheese, shredded

Snap off the tough ends of the asparagus.  Using a vegetable peeler, peel the asparagus about halfway up the stalk.  Cook the asparagus in 6 cups of salted boiling water.  When the asparagus is tender but crisp, lift it out of the water.  Reserve the water.  Cut the asparagus into 1 inch pieces and set aside.

In a large heavy bottom soup pot,  heat the olive oil on medium heat and sauté the onion, garlic and parsley for several minutes.  Add the rice and coat well.  Add the reserved asparagus water and bring to a boil.  Cook until the rice is al dente, stirring often. Gently add the asparagus and allow it to warm.  Turn the heat off and stir in the shredded cacio d’roma cheese.  Serve right away!


Serves 4

buon appetite.


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