Spring Greens and Rice Soup

(from Piatto Unico: When One Course Makes a Real Italian Meal; based on recipe from Margherita Aloi)
Course Main Dish, Soups
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 6 servings, at least


  • 10 ounces to 1 pound spring greens such as baby spinach chard, dandelion greens, watercress, and edible flowers (choose two varieties if possible), washed well
  • 2 cups cleaned, thinly sliced leeks or spring onions (white and tender green parts) or any others in the onion family
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil or a combination of butter and olive oil
  • 2 cups peeled, medium-diced potatoes preferably russet potatoes
  • 3 quarts chicken broth or water or a mixture
  • 1 cup Arborio or Carnaroli rice or other varieties such as jasmine rice, brown rice or long-grain white rice
  • 1/2 bunch asparagus trimmed, cut in short lengths (optional)
  • 1 small hot red pepper seeded and slivered, or hot red pepper flakes to taste
  • Sea salt or kosher salt
  • Best-quality extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
  • 1 to 1 ½ cups freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano or other hard grating cheese


  1. Leaving small leaves whole, thinly slice the other greens, including stems.

  2. Heat a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Combine the leeks and garlic with the olive oil, stirring until coated. Cover the pan and cook, stirring often, until they soften but do not brown, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the potatoes and cover with broth (if using water, add 1 tablespoon salt). Bring to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until barely tender. Stir in the rice and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the asparagus, hot red pepper, and shredded greens. Season with salt and simmer just until the greens are tender (add more water as necessary for a soupy consistency). Serve the soup warm, topping each serving with a thread of olive oil and sprinkle of cheese. Pass the rest of the cheese at the table.