MINESTRONE MILANESE

Ingredients

1/3 lb. pork rinds (cotenne)
1 lb. fresh peas, podded
2 firm zucchini, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 carrots, diced
8 oz. ripe tomatoes
6 tbs. lard
6 tbs. parsley
6 sage leaves
2 cloves garlic
1 large onion, sliced
3 oz. pancetta, cut in little strips
1 lb. shelled, fresh borlotti beans
3 potatoes, diced
1/2 lb. Savoy cabbage, sliced
4 tbs. Parmigiano
1/3 lb. rice, short or medium grain
salt

How to make the Minestrone of Rice and Vegetables:

Scrape the pork rinds with a knife to clean the surface and remove any bristle that might still be attached to it. Blanch the pork rinds and let cool. Cut into strips and set aside. Rinse and dice all the vegetables (zucchini, celery, and carrots). Peel, seed and dice the tomatoes, then let cool. Finely chop the lard, parsley, sage, garlic and onion. Saute the pancetta over medium heat together with lard and herbs, stir until the lard melts and the onions get soft but not brown.

Combine all the vegetables, except for beans, potatoes and cabbage, together with 3 qts. of hot water and a little salt. Cover the pot and let cook. When the water boils, add the beans and the pork rinds cut into strips. Cook over a low fire for l 1/2 hours, and then add the potatoes and the cabbage cut into julienne. When the beans are done, add the rice. Continue to cook on a medium flame, stirring frequently so that the minestrone, which should have thickened by now, does not stick to the bottom of pot. When the rice is done (approx. 12 min.), remove from fire and mix in the grated Parmigiano.

If minestrone gets too thick, add some broth. Let it rest for 15 min. and serve either hot or at room temperature.

Note 1:
If you are using dry beans, remember to soak them for a few hours.

Note 2:
Rice can be replaced with a short pasta.

Serves 4

Regional recipe from Lombardy