For the rice balls:
Place rice, tinned tomatoes, stock and thyme leaves in a pot and season. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for approximately 30 minutes, until the rice is cooked and the liquid has evaporated.
Cool the rice, preferably overnight.
Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
Break baguette into pieces. Process in a food processor to form crumbs.
Place crumbs on a baking sheet. Toast in the preheated oven until browned, approximately 6 minutes, taking care not to burn the crumbs.
Remove from the oven and place into a bowl.
Add the first 3 eggs to the cooled rice mixture. Mix through.
Place two tablespoons of the mixture in your hand, make a well and put a cube of mozzarella in the centre.
Mould the rice mixture around the mozzarella to form a ball the size of a golf ball. (If it looks like the ball is falling apart, just keep on rolling with your hands until it comes together.)
Roll the balls into the beaten eggs; then coat with the toasted baguette crumbs.
Refrigerate for an hour.
While the soup is cooking, heat oil in a heavy-based pot and deep-fry rice balls in batches for 3 to 5 minutes, until golden brown.
Place on paper towelling to drain any excess oil. Keep warm.For the creamy butternut soup:
Melt butter in a large saucepan. Cook leeks until soft.
Add butternut and thyme. Stir-fry for 5 minutes. Add chicken stock and season.
Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, until butternut is soft.
Cool down slightly and process to a smooth puree in a food processor.
Return to the saucepan and add cream. Heat through (do not boil). Serve warm with the rice balls.Recipe reprinted with permission of PinkPolkaDotFoods. To see more recipes, click here.