Ten-Minute Risotto & Five-Minute Cream Soup


Fancy. Time-consuming, Complicated…all words that come to mind. But is it? Risotto is creamy rice. Fancy? I’d say comforting like soup or mashed potatoes! It cooks in twenty minutes; time-consuming? I don’t think so! And complicated? You saute onions, add the rice, and cook for twenty minutes while gradually adding stock and stirring. Oh…my.

Here is what’s so difficult about risotto…the misconception that it’s difficult! Honestly, I will acknowledge fear about getting the texture right and how easy it is to screw up because that almost soup-like creaminess is what makes risotto, not the fact that you used Arborio rice. I mean, I used sushi rice after running out a few times! However…even if your rice ends up thick and softer than it’s supposed to, it will be delicious and so very satisfying! So, I’m here to say, make risotto! Make it plain, make it with tomato sauce, bits of buttercup squash, loads of roasted garlic and fresh herbs. You’ll never look back! And, on top of that, your life will be made easier because, in one batch of risotto, you can end up with the base for ten-minute risotto and some of the creamiest, most flavorful, five-minute soup you can make.

How, you ask? Easily…

First we’ll start with the ten-minute risotto. I found this tip in a book by Jamie Oliver and was so excited! Basically, you cook risotto to the halfway point, which is about ten minutes and four to five ladles of stock. You then pour it out onto a sheet pan, spreading evenly, and immediately put it in the fridge to stop the rice from cooking further. After it has completely cooled, you can transfer it to a container for storage. When you want to cook it later in the week, simply put it in a pan with a ladle of warm stock and gently heat it to temperature, allowing it to mostly absorb that ladleful before finishing it with three to four more! In about ten minutes you have freshly made risotto with the same texture as if you’d never stopped in the first place. This is a great idea if you want to make it for a gathering since risotto must be served immediately lest you chance the rice absorbing every bit of liquid and becoming mushy. Even better, though, busy people, like me, can have a family meal (since risotto is truly a main course!) or side dish finished in ten minutes. What I Iike to do is start a full batch of risotto and refrigerate half of it for later, leaving me with the other half to eat that night. Half a batch is a full meal for two people, so that works perfectly for Billy and I.

What if I don’t save half of it in this manner, though, and end up with a load of leftovers? As flavorful as it is, I don’t really want to eat the equivalent of mashed rice…so what I do is portion it and throw it in the fridge or freezer. Then, whenever I like, I have nearly instant, effortless, creamy soup. I take the risotto and put it in a pot with some stock. Once they’ve warmed up, I puree them together with an immersion blender (you can use a blender or food processor, though) and add more liquid or risotto, if necessary, until I have the consistency I desire. I eyeball the measurements because everybody likes theirs differently.

It’s so easy, though…I come home from work for a half hour break and do this! The mixture heats up (in minutes) while I feed the baby and I need only a minute to puree it before putting it in a thermos and heading back to the office. That’s how simple and fast. And the flavor…It tastes just like the risotto! So, you can have onion soup, roasted vegetable, tomato and basil, sweet potato…your options are endless and all absolutely wonderful. In my opinion, this is as easy as canned soup, but better tasting and worlds healthier, especially if you make risotto as I usually do—sans butter or parmesan. I actually prefer the taste without them; the butter is too rich for me. Plus, I make it several times a week, so it’s just plain healthier!

To get you started on what I can only imagine is a path to addiction…I’ve provided a base recipe with ideas for variation. Enjoy and don’t be daunted! 

Risotto -- Base Recipe (serves 4-6 as a main course)

  • 5 1/2 cups broth/stock (vegetable, chicken, beef, seafood, whatever fits your recipe)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tbsp olive oil (butter or butter and oil is more traditional, however)
  • 1/3 cup finely minced onion
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • Optional: 1 tbsp unsalted butter & 1/3 cup grated Parmesan (to add incredible richness at the end)

Bring the broth to a simmer in a small pot and keep it warm.

Heat the oil in a heavy pot over moderate heat; add the onion and saute for 1-2 minutes, until soft and translucent, but not brown. Add the rice and toast, stirring, for about a minute, ensuring all the grains are well coated in the oil. Add the wine and cook, stirring constantly, until absorbed. Add about half a cup of broth, stirring frequently, and allow it to mostly absorb before adding the next. You want to add the broth gradually, one half-cup ladle at a time, allowing one addition to mostly absorb before adding the next; you should always have at least a thin veil of liquid over the rice. Your risotto is done when the rice is tender, yet still firm. If you want to use the butter and Parmesan at the end, simply add them both, stirring vigorously to combine, and then serve immediately! 

If you plan to cook all or part of the rice to the halfway point in order to refrigerate it for later, simply stop once ten minutes have passed. As stated previously, that should include about four or five ladles of broth. Have a sheet pan ready so you can stop the rice from further cooking as quickly as possible. If you want to reserve the full recipe, use a full-size jelly roll pan; if you plan to only reserve half, only a half-size jelly roll pan is necessary, but using a larger one is obviously fine, if not better for the cooling process! Spread the rice evenly and immediately throw it in the fridge until completely cooled. To cook, place in a pot with half a cup of stock and warm over moderate heat. Once the stock is mostly absorbed and the mixture is warm, add another ladle and continue to cook as normal. You should get through a total of four to five ladles over the course of ten minutes and the risotto will be ready to serve :) I should note, though, to cook half a batch of risotto, you may want to only add about a quarter of a cup or so of broth or it may take longer to absorb, altering the outcome. 

Now, a few tricks...I read these in Risotto, a book by Judith Barrett. Until these tips, my risotto was always thick and soft, as you can see in the photo of butternut squash risotto below (also before I knew how to take good food photos, haha!).

See the difference between this and the very first photo? This looks like a bowl of soft rice, while the other looks almost like soup. The soup is the one you're going for! If you can't achieve that right away, though...I ate thick, soft risotto for over a year before finding this book and Billy and I were very, very happy each and every time :)

Now, for the tricks. First, the absorption of broth should take about 18 minutes, total. If you're done more quickly than that, the risotto will probably be too hard (soft on the outside with a hard bite in the middle, yuck!); if it takes much longer, it will likely end up mushy, at which point you may as well puree it into soup (also delicious!). That means each half-cup ladle of broth should be mostly absorbed in just under two minutes. The very first time I kept track in this manner, my risotto turned out perfectly. Now, I always keep track!

Second, you can know, for sure, that the rice is ready for the next ladle of stock by scraping your wooden spoon across the bottom of the pot. If it creates a clear wake behind it, it's ready for more. If not, allow it to keep absorbing. 

Lastly...serve immediately! The longer the rice sits, the more liquid it will absorb--it really never stops. This doesn't mean you need to scarf it down at top speed (I prefer to savor it for as long as possible), but certainly don't leave it in the pot for half an hour.

For variations...consider replacing part of the broth with another flavored liquid, such as tomato sauce; simply combine them at the beginning and add as normal...Roast some vegetables until soft and caramelized, mixing them into the risotto at the last minute or topping it once served (butternut/buttercup squash and sweet potatoes are particularly good!)...Double the amount of onions, slicing rather than mincing, and caramelize them before adding the rice to create a flavor like French onion soup (use beef broth for authenticity)...Add a full head of roasted garlic, chopped fresh herbs, and throw in a drizzle of olive oil at the end...I also like to sometimes top the risotto with toasted nuts (slivered almonds, especially) or homemade croutons. The crunch adds a wonderful contrasting texture. Just play around with it and you'll find a world of possibilities!

And remember, if you make too much or if you just want a ton of delicious soup bases for last-minute meals, refrigerate or freeze the leftovers and then heat and puree them with stock or water...the end! 

As always, enjoy!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...