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Chef [Katie Brown Ardington] says: This dish [from Ottawa Cooks: Signature Recipes from the Finest Chefs of Canada's Capital Region by Anne DesBrisay] offers everything I love to eat. It is hearty but fresh, with lots of herbs and citrus. Plus I like anything with a poached egg and sharp cheese! It is perfect for a light main with some bread and salad on the side, or make a smaller portion for an appetizer. I have made many versions of this dish with leftover risotto for family meals at [the restaurant] Beckta.

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Lemon and Herb Risotto Soup with Poached Eggs

Serves 6

 

Lemon and herb risotto soup

8 cups vegetable stock

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup unsalted butter, divided

2 shallots, finely diced

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 1/4 cups risotto rice (carnaroli is my favourite, arborio is fine)

3/4 cup dry white wine

1 large bunch watercress, trimmed

Zest and juice of 4 lemons

1 cup fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley leaves

1/2 cup fresh mint leaves + a few delicate sprigs for garnish

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

4 sprigs fresh tarragon, leaves picked

 

In a large pot, bring stock to a boil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Turn down the heat to keep the stock at a steady simmer. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt 3 Tbsp of the butter. Add shallots and sweat without colouring for 4 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add rice and cook, stirring, until rice turns translucent and has a nice nutty aroma, about 3 minutes. Pour in wine and cook, still stirring, until absorbed, about 3 minutes. Add hot stock, a couple of ladlefuls at a time, and cook, stirring, until absorbed. Repeat until stock is used up, rice is slightly firm to the bite and all the liquid absorbed, 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove risotto from the heat and set aside. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt remaining butter. Add watercress, lemon juice (reserving zest for later), parsley and mint. Cook until watercress is just wilted. Pour in remaining stock and cook for 1 minute. Transfer watercress mixture to a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process until watercress and herbs are finely chopped. Stir the purée into the risotto (the consistency should be nice and runny). Stir in half the Parmesan and lemon zest, salt and pepper to taste.

Poached eggs

Splash of white wine vinegar

6 large eggs

Have ready a large bowl of cool water. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add vinegar and turn down the heat to a simmer. Stirring the water with a fork to create a whirlpool, break eggs into the simmering water, 3 at a time. Once they rise to the surface, trim any wispy tails of white with a slotted spoon. Poach eggs for a total of 4 minutes. Using the slotted spoon, carefully transfer eggs to the bowl of cool water. Poach remaining eggs and transfer to the cool water.

To serve

Warm six individual soup bowls in the oven. Gently rewarm the eggs in a large pan of simmering water for 1 minute. Ladle risotto soup into the warm bowls, place a poached egg in the centre of each bowl and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan. Garnish with more herbs, if desired.

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