Minestra di riso e cicoria (Chicory and Rice Soup)

Minestra di riso e cicoria

Chicory (cicoria in Italian) is one of my very favorite greens. It brings back memories of Angelina for whom cicoria and escarole were almost daily staples. Maybe that’s why she lived well into her 90s… A great weeknight dinner option, the recipe for this soup is very fast, very simple and very healthy. (If you omit the cheese at the end, it’s entirely vegan.)


Serves 4-6 people

  • 2 heads of chicory
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled and slightly crushed
  • Olive oil, preferably of the dark green ‘fruity’ kind
  • 200g (7 oz) of rice
  • Salt and pepper
  • Grated pecorino romano cheese for topping (optional)


You trim and cut up the chicory (or just the green parts–see Notes below) into smallish pieces, throw it into some well salted boiling water and cook for about 5 minutes or so.

You then transfer the chicory (use a slotted spoon, as you’ll need the “broth” for later) into a pan in which you will have sautéed the garlic in olive oil. Let the chicory insaporireabsorb the flavors of the seasoned oil—for a minute or two, then add a few ladlefuls of the chicory ‘broth’ until you have the quantity of soup you like.

Add rice and allow to simmer until the rice and chicory are tender. (If you have some cooked rice on hand, just add it at the very end, as when I made this soup, using some leftover white rice from a Chinese restaurant).

Serve in deep soup plates and top with pecorino cheese, freshly ground pepper and un filo d’olio–a drizzle of olive oil.


Variations: You can add potatoes in addition to, or instead of, the rice. You can also substitute soup pasta for the rice. For a softer taste, use chopped onion instead of (or in addition to) the garlic. You can add hot red pepper in addition to garlic to the oil as well if you want a little ‘heat’. And you can use butter instead of (or in addition to) the olive oil. For a richer dish, use chicken broth instead of the chicory broth. If you omit the rice, etc. altogether, and instead add some beaten egg mixed pecorino, you’ll have another favorite soup, cicoria cacio e uova.

Other ways to make chicory: Chicory is a versatile vegetable. Without the addition of broth, the recipe above becomes a great side dish. It goes very well with fava beans, as well. Chicory makes for a quick and tasty condimento for pasta. The white ‘heart’ of the cicoria is also a wonderful salad green, either as part of a mixed salad or–my favorite–as a substitute for punterelle, a special kind of chicory grown around Rome that is dressed with a very particular salsina made as follows: in a mortar and pestle, crush garlic, anchovy fillets and a bit of salt together until they make a paste, then add olive oil, a bit of vinegar and lots of freshly ground pepper. (NB: This is the only instance that I know of in Italian cooking that a salad dressing is made separately from the salad–the exception that proves the rule, I guess.) Served with some crusty bread and cold white wine, this salad is so satisfying, it’s a meal in itself!

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11 Responses to “Minestra di riso e cicoria (Chicory and Rice Soup)”

  1. Sally
    9 March 2013 at 14:06 #

    Sounds delicious and reminds me of this: http://www.thewednesdaychef.com/the_wednesday_chef/2013/02/marcella-hazans-broccoli-and-pasta-soup.html

  2. 3 March 2013 at 15:59 #

    Stefano’s Nonna Pierina had hardly even left her native Lazio when she came to visit in the U.S.. We still laugh at the memory of her exclaiming in awe, “Ma guarda la cicoria!” when she noticed the pesky dandelions growing in people’s yards. We’ve had greens on our mind lately, and this looks delicious – the potato version has me hooked. But do tell – can you find cicoria out east? Sadly, it’s not available here.

  3. 3 March 2013 at 10:07 #

    E’ sempre un piacere passare da te, anche questa volta hai proposto un piatto che sa di famiglia ,di affetti, di tradizione…Grazie !

  4. 1 March 2013 at 10:44 #

    Frank! I love this, so simple and green!
    Looks so pretty in your colorful soup bowl.

  5. vittorio Orsi
    28 February 2013 at 09:56 #

    Frank, Grazie e grazie tante, sarebbe bello ricevere un menu diario, capisco la difficolta´e mi contento di quello che ci mandi, ci fai ricordare ogni volta quanto e´bella ed importante la nostra cucina Italiana, non importa la regione.
    Un abbraccio e tante belle cose.
    Vittorio Orsi

    • 3 March 2013 at 15:19 #

      Grazie a te, Vittorio! Magari io potessi scrivere ogni giorno, sarebbe bello anche per me. Ma sai, in settimana il lavoro non lascia tempo per nient’altro!

  6. 28 February 2013 at 04:27 #

    So perfect on these chilly winter eves… and who doesn’t want to live until they are 90?

  7. 6 May 2012 at 15:08 #

    These promise to be delicious. Thanks!

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