Minestrone with Tomatoes and Rice

Source: Sheri I, original recipe by Luca Marcato of Osteria al Doge, NYC
adapted by http://theresalwaysthyme.blogspot.com

1/4 cup olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 medium carrot, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 medium Idaho potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
1 small zucchini, cut into 1-inch dice
1 small yellow squash, cut into 1-inch dice
1 Japanese eggplant or 1/2 small eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup arborio rice
one 28-ounce can Italian peeled tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
salt and fresh ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 small stalk of broccoli — cut into 1-inch florets, stem peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 small head of cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets
1 medium celery rib, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup frozen baby peas
6 cups water, vegetable or chicken broth
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Heat the olive oil in a large non-reactive soup pot. Add the onion and red bell pepper and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Add the carrot potato, zucchini, yellow squash and eggplant and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes.

Add the rice to a skillet on medium heat with a little bit of oil, about a tablespoon. Stir well to coat the grains with the oil and toast for about two minutes. Then add the rice to the soup pot with the vegetables. Add the tomatoes, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, the crushed red pepper and 6 cups of water (or stock) and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Add the broccoli, cauliflower, celery and peas and cook, stirring, until all the vegetables and the rice are tender, about 35 minutes. Season the soup with salt and pepper.

(MAKE AHEAD: The soup can be refrigerated for 1 day. Reheat before serving.) Ladle the soup into bowls and serve, passing the Parmesan cheese at the table.

If it's too thick next day, add some stock or water and season again!