ITALIAN SOUPSSoups are an important part of the Italian cuisine. They vary in consistency from light and delicate to hearty main meal soups. Texture is always apparent (Italians rarely serve smooth soups). Some may be partially pureed but the identity of the ingredients is never entirely obliterated. There are regional characteristics, too. In the north, soups are often based on rice, while in Tuscany, thick bean- or bread-based soups are popular. Tomato, garlic and pasta soups are typical of the south. Minestrone is known world-wide but the best-known version probably comes from Milan.However, all varieties are full of vegetables and are delicious and satisfying. Fish soups also abound in one guise or another, and most of these are village specialties, so the variety is unlimited and always tasty.