Souped-up risotto

Here is the second in a yet-to-be-wittily-titled series where I tell you more about what we have been eating (missed the first one, then read it here).

Why am I doing this? Mainly because I can. But also because it cannot hurt to occasionally put my blog where my mouth is and let you know how we are putting into practice the things we are learning from The Right Thing investigations.

Today’s quick supper sojourn is in the wonderfully welcoming world of risotto. And, because this is our recipe (in the loosest possible sense of the word) then I have no qualms about sharing the whole thing with you. No copywrite concerns for me today, oh no! Before we start, though, we ought to mention Nigel Slater, whose program first gave us the idea of using leftover soup as stock.

Soup stock

You’re doing what now?

Yep, that’s right. Soup for stock: it’s a genius idea. In this case, we made a butternut squash soup one day for dinner and then kept hold of the leftovers. To start the risotto off, you take your leftover soup and water it down with boiling water until you have the quantity and consistency you need. For us, that’s about a litre of liquid.

Then, you make risotto. It’s as simple as that. (See, I said it wasn’t much of a recipe).

What’s that? You want a little bit more by way of instruction. Oh go on then…

Risotto rice

Melt some butter in a large saucepan and briefly fry about 220g of risotto rice. After a few minutes something is meant to happen to the rice, but I’ve yet to spot what that is, so I would suggest you just fry it for a few minutes until it starts to get boring and then start ladling in the soup stock. This is a little bit more time-consuming than just dumping all of the stock in at one go, but I think it makes for a richer risotto. Add enough that it can simmer for a few minutes without needing your hawk-eyed observations (because, face it, you’ll get distracted and wander off sooner or later) and top it up again when the rice has absorbed most of the liquid.

Risotto simmering

Keep going until the rice is cooked to your liking. I quite like it with a bit of bite to it still and I generally find that this is somewhere around a litre of stock. The approved method for checking how well-cooked your risotto rice has become, is to extract some rice on the end of a fork, blow on it, drop some on your hand, swear loudly, shove the rest in your mouth so that you can offload the burning rice from your soft, delicate palm, realise that you’ve just piled insanely hot rice onto your tongue, swear not quite so coherently, pant a bit and then chew and swallow. At this point you discover that it’s still a bit chewy, so you wait a few minutes and repeat. Other tasting methods are available, but I find this one works for me.

You’ve not mentioned seasoning!

Good spot, I haven’t. Depending on the soup you’re using, you may find that the stock is already pretty well seasoned. In particular, check and double check before adding any more salt. We didn’t need any extra when using the leftover butternut squash soup, for example. But you can never go wrong with a bit of black pepper I say (it’s an odd saying, I grant you, and not one that finds many outlets), so grind a bit into the pan as you simmer.

(Reading that back, I’m not sure how well the last part of that sentence reads, but I’ll leave it in – it might get me some more disappointed clickthroughs from Google searches).

The joy of risotto, of course, is that you can eat it on its own, with a garnish on top, as an accompaniment, with meat, with fish, with other vegetables. All sorts of ways. And far be it from me to tell you where to stick your risotto, particularly as you probably didn’t need me to tell you how to make it either. But we’ve come this far together so let’s raise a fork and decide that, whatever you serve it with – if, indeed, you serve it with anything else at all – then it is sure to be delicious and a cunning way to make the most of some leftover soup. Happy eating.

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