This is the third minestrone recipe I’ve discovered in my Mom “Betty’s” cookbook so there’s no doubt this was one of her favorites. This soup’s signature ingredients of beans, onions, celery, carrots, stock, and tomatoes will not disappoint. Plus, there’s pasta and cheese!
I’m glad to be reminded that this dish hails from Italy. And not just Italy but ancient Italy (think BC, folks!).
I’ve kidded a few times here at Betty’s Cook Nook that my family must have had poor roots as many of the recipes we ate growing up are considered peasant foods. This is one of them; minestrone belongs to a style of cooking known in Italy as “cucina povera” (literally “poor kitchen”). All I have to say is bring it on — I love my peasant foods as they are hearty and the very origins of comfort foods rely upon them! True story: I once made and devoured an instant mashed potato on sliced white bread sandwich proving my forever love for carby sustenance.
As a lover and former resident of Italy, one thing I’ve learned is that Italians do not rush in the kitchen. They really don’t rush outside the kitchen, either, unless it’s from behind the wheel of a fast sports car or when horse racing at revered events like Siena’s Palio.
In similar fashion, please don’t hurry this recipe — let the ingredients mingle and get to know one another. While cooking time takes about an hour and a half it’s well worth the wait. You’ll be treated to wonderful smells from your lively kitchen and rewarded with a savory soup that has withstood the test — and taste — of time.
❤ Back in the day “oil” likely meant Crisco vegetable oil. Since this dish has Italian roots we used olive oil — a kitchen staple. As fan of a great olive oil, for several years I’ve fostered an Italian olive tree living on a farm gracing the hills outside Montalcino, Tuscany. Each year after the Il Palazzone harvest my eyes grow as wide as dinner plates when 3 bottles of pure gold arrive at my door. That’s amore!
❤ Make sure and check out Mom’s other two minestrone recipes here and here. I’m not sure which version I like best as each has its own merit. In a pinch you could make the one that makes best use of the ingredients you have in your kitchen.
❤ Wacky about minestrone? Wiki’s got you covered with more interesting facts about this zesty soup!
½ cup | olive oil
1 clove | garlic, minced
2 cups | onion, chopped
1 cup | celery, chopped
4 tablespoons | parsley, chopped
6 ounce can | tomato paste
10 ½ ounce can (~1 ½ cups) | beef or vegetable broth
9 cups | water
1 cup | cabbage, coarsely chopped
2 | carrots, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons | salt
¼ teaspoon | freshly cracked pepper
⅛ teaspoon | sage
1 pound can | kidney beans
1 cup | green beans or peas (we used beans)
1 cup | elbow macaroni
to taste | grated parmesan cheese
ii. what to do
1. In a large pot heat the oil over medium-high heat.
2. Add the garlic, onion, celery, and parsley and cook until soft, about 7-9 minutes.
3. Stir in the tomato paste and the next 7 ingredients (the broth, water, cabbage, carrots, salt, pepper and sage). Mix well and bring to a boil.
4. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer slowly 1 hour.
5. Add the kidney and green beans (or peas) and the macaroni. Cook 10-15 minutes more or until the macaroni is tender.
6. Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese. That’s right — grated cheese makes the world go ’round!
Yields 8 servings. Keeps well in the refrigerator and reheats nicely!
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook
This isn’t our first time at the minestrone rodeo! In 2012 we made this minestrone recipe and Mom must have surely loved this soup because I think I’ve found 3 different minestrone soup recipes in her cookbook.
While the formal definition of minestrone calls for a thick soup with bits of pasta, this recipe – sans the pasta – is just as tasty as our first find, which included dittalini. With Italian origins, this tasty soup warms you up on a cold day! It’s good all by itself or partnered with some fresh baked bread and a salad. For those who don’t know me, a side of wine is a given. :)
❤ I used red cabbage for a pop a’ color.
❤ I was concerned at first sight by the mass quantity of soup. But when I later did the math I realized it’s perfect for a party of eight. Or 4 days of 2 bowls each. :/~ You can also bag and freeze leftovers for a quick meal when you’re short on time.
❤ “Navy beans” are referred to by many a name. Haricot. Pearl Haricot. Pea Bean. This high fiber bean isn’t navy blue in color – rather white – and prized for its cholesterol-lowering health benefits plus its ability to retain an oval shape after being cooked tender. Navy beans received their nickname after being a popular staple of the U.S. Navy in the early 20th century.
2 cups | navy beans
4 quarts | cold water
5 | beef bouillon cubes (or beef broth)
2 tablespoons | vegetable oil
1 ½ cups | onion, chopped
2 cups | celery, sliced
2 cloves | garlic, minced
3 tablespoons | parsley, chopped
1 pound can | tomatoes, chopped (including juice)
1 teaspoon | basil, crumbled (or a few fresh leaves, torn by hand)
½ teaspoon | oregano, crumbled
2 teaspoons | salt (we prefer kosher salt or grey sea salt)
¼ teaspoon | pepper, freshly cracked
1 cup (3 medium) | carrots, thinly sliced
4 cups (4 small) | unpeeled zucchini, sliced
10 ounce package | frozen green peas
10 ounce package | frozen cut green beans
¼ head (2 cups) | cabbage, sliced
to serve | parmesan cheese, grated
1. Wash the navy beans. Place beans, water and bouillon (or broth) in a large pot. Bring slowly to boil and simmer, covered 1 ½ hours, or until the beans are soft. While the beans soften now’s a good time for a little wine rest break! #LongDay
2. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion, celery, and garlic. Sauté 5 minutes. Add this mixture to the beans and broth.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the cheese. Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
4. To serve, sprinkle each serving with the grated parmesan cheese and ENJOY!
Yields: About 8-9 servings (~2 cups each, in size). Nutritional info is below in the original recipe scan!
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook
I was just a tot of 9 when this recipe was published.
Not that I remember or should remember, but I’ve developed a sixth sense affectionately termed “internet stalking.” Rather than use my acquired skills for ill will, I use my skills for the betterment of nostalgic foodie-ism. Which brings me to this recipe.
I really had no reason to turn over the “sweet and sour slaw” recipe (see the two-sided scan below) Mom had apparently torn from a magazine. But “curious me” did turn it over!
Reading the recipe’s back revealed an authors name “James Farrell.” And his book, “The Dunne Family.” In two clicks I found the book’s publish year of 1976, our nation’s bicentennial. Keying in a few words from the article – specifically “james farrell 1976 it was late afternoon when we picked up our boat in Newton Falls” and I was taken to this. A scan of the article which revealed it was from the May 2, 1976 issue of FAMILY WEEKLY.
I then found this black and white of the original cover that was from Florida (I think each city just printed their name on the front). Little House on the Prairie star Melissa Gilbert was on the cover with her two Moms. Melissa was a kid-time favorite of mine – bonnet and all. <– Shakes head, but true!
This recipe was a great find! It’s a kissing-cousin of cole slaw and the dressing is what makes it truly unique. Pineapple and lemon juice are the key dressing ingredients that make this crunchy salad a reacquired family favorite.
Hopefully this story reminds us all that sometimes things are greater than their initial face value. Turning over a stone here and there can be a good thing. In this case, I discovered another publication my Mom read when I was too young to take notice … plus I was able to reignite fond memories of a childhood friend … in just a few clicks.
foodie tips ~
♥ Unless you’re feeding a small village or love cabbage, I’d suggest easily “halving” this recipe! There were easily 15-25 servings based on the original recipe. I was eating slaw for days! The hips do not lie.
♥ This stored extremely well in the fridge. I think the flavors were able to buddy-up and become BFFs. At least that’s what my taste buds say.
♥ Whenever possible, use fresh ingredients vs. canned – in this case use fresh bean sprouts as I’ve never seen fresh water chestnuts.
2 ½ pounds | cabbage, shredded
2 cans (16 ounces) | bean sprouts, drained
2 cans (8.5 ounces) | water chestnuts, drained and thinly sliced
1 ½ cups | mayonnaise
6 tablespoons | lemon juice
⅔ cups | unsweetened pineapple juice
2 teaspoons | salt
1 ½ cups | onion, finely chopped
2 cans (4 ounces) | pimiento, drained and diced
ii. what to do
1. In a large bowl mix cabbage, sprouts and chestnuts. Cover and chill in the fridge.
2. Combine mayo, pineapple juice, lemon juice, salt and onion.
3. Pour dressing over the chilled veggies and toss until well coated.
4. Stir in the pimientos and serve!
Yields: 4 Quarts. QUARTS!
It donned on me as I started cooking the first ingredient for this dish ~ bacon ~ that most of our family has lived with a microwave in the kitchen, than without.
Gulp. I’m old!
While the microwave’s origins go back as early as the 1930s, by the late 1970s, the prices made them more affordable. By 1986, only 25% of Americans had a microwave meaning us Kikers were early adopters of magic!
Aside from microwave popcorn, and scrambled eggs, bacon was something that the microwave could heat fast n’ good, turning Mom into a time-saving magician.
This recipe doesn’t call for microwaving the bacon, but either way you’ll find every spoonful of the salty stuff a special surprise.
3 slices | bacon, finely chopped
1 cup | onion, chopped
½ cup | celery, chopped
2 large cloves | garlic, minced
1 teaspoon | basil leaves
1 can | campbell’s beef broth
1 can | campbell’s bean with bacon soup
1½ soup cans | water
1 can (16 ounces) | stewed tomatoes, undrained
½ cup | uncooked ditalini pasta
½ teaspoon | salt
1 cup | cabbage, cut into long, thin shreds
1 cup | zucchini, cubed
1. In a large saucepan, brown bacon and cook onion and celery with garlic and basil until tender.
2. Stir into soup the water, tomatoes, ditalini and salt. Bring to a boil and cover. Reduce heat.
3. Simmer 15 minutes.
4. Add cabbage and zucchini. Cook 10 minutes more or until done, stirring occasionally.
Yields: 8 cups.
Foodie Tips ~
♥ Why not partner a bowl of this soup with some tasty bread?
♥ This recipe can easily be doubled for larger food gatherings.
Foodie Note ~
When I found this recipe, it didn’t have a name. I went online and found out that this was indeed a minestrone soup recipe. I later found a couple other minestrone recipes in Mom’s cookbook so I know it was one of her favorites.
Growin’ up in “San Antone,” my first memories of Italian food came in the form of Shakey’s Pizza Parlor off Austin Highway.
I don’t really remember the pizza much, but I do remember the experience and excitement of piling into the car to go pick it up. Shakey’s was the place for great family fun ~ especially for kids. Shakey’s had a magically cool player piano similar to the one we had at home where we spent countless hours singing with friends. I still have that piano!… To top your day, Shakey’s had party skimmer hats for the taking sporting bands around the top that read “Shakey’s” typeset in a blackletter-style font… and my favorite part were these little figure eight-shaped balloons you could blow-up and slide onto flat cardboard shoes; they’d stand on their own, transforming into the awesome shape of a happy pizza chef (at right). Why not watch this vintage video of the Shakey’s experience (and have a little laugh)?
So Italy. I’ve been lucky to travel to my far away home away from home 5 times (so far!) and have become somewhat of an Italian foodie snob. While this soup may not knock you over the head with “obvious” Italian flavor, when I close my eyes, the heartiness of the beans, carrots, tomato and parsley transports me back to my first tastes of Italy.
What a great memory that is.
You can read about my travel experiences to Italy at my other passion site at ForTheLoveOfItaly.com. More recipes, travel tips and pics, and fun stories.
Now, on to the soup!
1/2 cup | diced carrots
¼ cup | sliced celery
1 | diced tomato
1 cup | shredded cabbage
to taste | pepper
6 cups | boiling water
1 package | lipton brand beef flavor noodle soup
1 package | lipton brand onion soup
1/2 cup | kidney beans
2 tablespoons | chopped parsley
to serve | grated cheese
ii. what to do
1. Cook vegetables in boiling water, covered, for 20 minutes.
2. Stir-in pepper and soup mixes; cover and simmer 10 minutes.
3. Add beans and parsley. Heat.
4. Serve with grated cheese.
Foodie Tips ~
♥ You may have trouble finding the boxed soups; they are from the 70s. So sport your favorite 70s “cut-offs” and hold a soup-y seance. If you can’t find the soup with the noodles inside it, you can add your own; just make sure it’s a fine noodle, like Capelli d’Angelo (angel hair pasta). You can break the pasta into small pieces before cooking.
♥ In a pinch, you can do what I did and use grated mozzarella cheese. But try using a finely grated “hard” Italian cheese so the gooey cheese doesn’t overwhelm the soup. A couple of my favorites are Pecorino or Parmigiano Reggiano.
♥ Add a few sprigs of rosemary to the soup for a souper-dooper-booster of Italian flavor.
♥ You can double-up on the beans and some of the water, to make it more broth-y.