minestrone soup

Minestrone Soup RecipeMy Mainstay, Minestrone

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.

HEB Organics Elbows Macaroni

Macaroni For Me … Macaroni For You!

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.

Eating In Cortona Italy

foodie tips

  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!

Minestone Ingredients

i. ingredients

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
| 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!

~ Patrick

Betty’s Son
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook

Minestrone Recipe Card

Here’s A Scan Of Mom’s Actual Recipe Card

How To Make Minestrone Soup




A Minestrone Soup Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

Souper Trouper

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. :)

foodie tips

  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.
Why Are They Called Navy Beans?

i. ingredients

2 cups | navy beans
4 quarts | cold water
| 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

Use Red Cabbage For Minestrone Soup... For A Pop Of Color!ii. what to do

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!

~ Patrick

Betty’s Son
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook


How To Make Minestrone Soup

A Minestrone Soup Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

A Scan Of Betty’s Original Minestrone Soup Recipe

spaghettini bolognese

A Spaghettini Bolognese Recipe From Betty's Cook NookCrazy For This Bolognese

I’m confident this is the first of Mom’s recipes I found cut out with Pinking Shears (see the pic below).

Mom was an expert artist, although she would never consider herself as such [insert a Betty-blush here]. Mom’s artistic mediums spanned food, paper, wood, plants and cloth, where her pinking shears were one of her essential tools.

Mom loved sewing so much she found a way to include a sewing closet into her and Dad’s bedroom so there’s no doubting her passion for handmade clothes. Mom made many of her dresses, my band uniforms – she even sewed printed labels bearing my name into my clothes. I wish I still had the hand-painted denim shirt she made me based on my wish – a red barn complete with a scattering of farm animals painted in her “Oh, Betty” style.

I love it when I can find evidence of when Mom’s recipes came into existence. This one was from the May 1975 issue of Family Circle. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. My partner Joe said this sauce was better than his sauce. That really says a lot since his Red Sauce recipe is my favorite.

foodie tips ~

  Spaghettini? We had to look it up. And we briefly lived in Italy. It’s thin spaghetti. How to pronounce “bolognese?” This dish hails from Bologna, Italy, so it’s pronounced with four syllables – not three. Like boh-loh-NYEH-zeh. If you’re doubting your Italian pronunciation you can simply refer to it as a ragù, making sure to pepper your pronunciation with some hearty Italian hand gesturing.

  Pump up the jam. I added more carrot, celery and garlic. More cowbell? Well, that’s an ingredient for another special recipe.

  Why not serve this dish with some sidekicks? Some pepperoni-cheese bread and a side salad would hit the spot. It’s called a side salad so there’s more room for the bread. :~)

i. ingredients

¼ pound (about 1½ cups) | mushrooms, sliced
| carrot, sliced
1 clove | garlic, crushed or minced
½ cup | onion, chopped
½ cup | celery, chopped
½ cup | green pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons | wesson oil*
¾ pound | Italian sausage, casings removed and broken-up with a spoon
2 15-ounce cans | Hunt’s tomato sauce
½ cup | water
¼ cup | dry red wine (not optional)
1 teaspoon | sugar
¼ teaspoon | Italian herb seasoning

* We argued over this one. I wanted to use olive oil and Joe said “stick to the recipe the first time,” my very own cardinal rule. Joe won. But I still snuck-in more carrot, celery and fresh garlic since I wasn’t changing an ingredient. Besides, who gets all excited over one carrot, celery stalk or garlic clove?! Not me, that’s who!

ii. what to do

1. In a medium pan or Dutch oven, sauté the mushrooms, carrot, garlic, onion, celery and green pepper in the oil.

2. Add the sausage and cook until it’s no longer pink. Drain the fat (or not) … we don’t judge.

3. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer, uncovered, for about 40 minutes. Stir occasionally.

4. About 25 minutes into the simmer you can prepare your spaghettini by preparing your pasta according to the instructions.

5. Serve the bolognese over hot, cooked thin pasta.

Yields 5+ servings.

~ Patrick

Betty’s Son
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook

Here’s a scan of Mom’s original recipe.

A scan of Mom's Spaghettini Bolognese recipe ... as clipped from the May 1975 issue of Family Circle Magazine.

A scan of Mom’s Spaghettini Bolognese recipe … as clipped from the May 1975 issue of Family Circle Magazine.

tomato bisque

A Tomato Bisque Recipe From Betty's Cook NookA Christmas Spectacular
(Part I)

Our home at 2927 Trailend was decked out in the holiday best every year.

Our family’s signature was a white-light-wrapped Texas mesquite tree in the front yard. Neighbors expected us to don the tree with the shiny lights and so we did. Hundreds of them. Indoors … garland, ribbons and a crackling fire helped trim the season in the best of ways.

Over 40 Christmases later I stumbled upon a recipe folded and tucked deep inside Mom’s cookbook from an old Southern Living Magazine article headlined “Serve Supper After the Trimming,” which made me snicker. Supper? Um, DINNER! I offer my headline option: “Dinner, Decorate and Discotheque!” ;)

I later realized I had unintentionally ignored this hidden recipe for too many months, but this year it piqued my interest when I actually read past the vintage photo on the time-worn page – it contained two different menu ideas that were “quick to prepare and simple to serve.”

In a new era of microwavable meals and drive-thru food on the go, I don’t know if this would still be considered “quick,” but Joe and I found the holiday flight of recipes surprisingly tasty and worthy of a repeat eat. My chosen line-up? This Tomato Bisque recipe followed by Stroganoff Steak Sandwiches, Holiday Cake and Apple Cider – all coming this holiday season here at Betty’s Cook Nook.

However you celebrate the holidays, the deliciousness of food will make it all the greater!

tasting notes ~

  If you have old recipes like this one, make sure to take note of the details. A simple search of the photographer’s name “Jerome Drown” landed me to this online article with an interesting story of who he was; a Southern Living photographer, nature lover and conservationist with an awesome mid century modern home in Atlanta.

  If you’ve read the original recipe (below) you’ll see we’ve been “gypped” of the Apple Cider recipe. Apparently I could have made a few bucks as a proofreader in a former life. No worries – I’ll find a suitable replacement for the Apple Cider. In the meantime …

i. ingredients

2 (10 ¾ ounce) cans | chicken broth
1 ⅓ cups | canned tomatoes
1 cup | celery, chopped
2 teaspoons | onion, chopped
1 cup | carrots, chopped
1 teaspoon | salt, divided into halves
6 tablespoons | falfurrias brand butter, divided
¼ cup | all-purpose flour
2 ⅔ cups | half-and-half, scalded
2 large | tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons | sugar
¼ teaspoon | soda
to taste | paprika

ii. what to do

1. Combine broth, canned tomatoes, celery, onion , carrots and ½ teaspoon salt in a saucepan. Heat to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Strain and reserve the broth and discard the veggies (sorry, veggies – you served us well)!

2. Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a saucepan then gradually stir in flour. Cook, stirring constantly over low heat for 2 minutes. Gradually add the half-and-half, stirring constantly. Cook, stirring and stirring until thickened. Remove the mixture from heat then stir in the reserved broth from Step 1 (above). Set aside and keep warm.

How To Make Tomato Bisque Soup3. Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in a skillet. Add the fresh tomato and sauté 2-4 minutes. Stir in the sugar, the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and soda. Add to the broth mixture, stirring well. Garnish with paprika and serve!

Yield: About 6-8 servings

Here’s a scan of the original recipe!

Southern Living Magazine December 1978


the big soup

The Big Soup Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

Everything But The Kitchen Sink Soup

This “BIG SOUP” recipe is insanely flexible! It starts with a base of chicken broth and our familiar friends onion, celery, carrot and herbs. But then the party gets a little crazy – you add whatever fresh, canned or frozen veggies, pasta and or meats that you have loitering around the kitchen, making this soup “soup-er” flexible.

Some of the best cooks never follow a recipe to the “t” and this is surely one of their favorites!

Foodie Tips ~

  Note the variations on the original scan –

  For more soup: Add additional vegetables and broth.
  For two meals: Freeze the leftovers.
  For creamed soup: Add ½ to 1 cup cream 5 minutes before serving. Do not boil the cream!
  For pureed soup: Put all ingredients (no bones) into a blender and work your magic, until smooth.

  If you discover a version you really like, make record of the ratios so you can make it again on the next go.

  I was 10 when this recipe appeared in the 1976 edition of Apartment Life Magazine. How alarming it is to see the office phone hanging on the wall in the photo below! PS ~ I also love the bananas T-shirt!

i. base ingredients

2 cans | chicken broth
4 | chicken breasts
1 | large onion, chopped
| celery stalk, chopped
| carrot, chopped
2 sprigs | parsley
1 teaspoon | thyme (or dill weed)
| bay leaf
to “cover” | water

ii. “scavenge” for these accessory ingredients

1 small can | pinto beans, chickpeas and or plum tomatoes
1 medium can | corn
½ package | frozen okra, asparagus, artichokes and or pea pods
2 | potatoes, chopped
1 small | zucchini, chopped
| green pepper, chopped
¼ pound | mushrooms, sliced
¼ cup or more | pasta or rice
1 length | seasoned sausage
cubes | leftover meat
1 | kitchen sink (just checking if you’re paying attention!) :)

iii. what to do

1. In a medium/large pot over medium heat, add the first eight ingredients in step “i” above. Add water to cover.

2. While waiting for the soup to simmer, scavenge for your step “ii” ingredients above, whatever form they take.

3. Add fresh veggies and rice after the soup’s been simmering 15 minutes or canned, frozen ingredients and pasta after 20 minutes. Simmer soup for 30 minutes or until everything’s done.

An Original Scan Mom's Big Soup Recipe

Click To View –> An Original Scan Of The Big Soup Recipe

stayabed stew

The Stayabed Stew Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook
One Easy-To-Make Stew

When I saw the recipe card below, I stared at it for a few minutes trying to figure out what Mom had written. After doing a Google search I learned that in fact there was something called “Stay Abed Stew”. Something that has been extended by some to be called “Stay In Bed Stew” as it turns out it’s so easy to make. I prefer the Stayabed name.

I learned that this recipe The I Hate To Cook Book By Peg Brackenoriginated from the “I Hate To Cook Book” written by Peg Bracken in 1960. The book was made for everyone, men and women alike, who want to get from cooking hour to cocktail hour in as little time as possible. I learned a little bit about Peg and she was a copywriter at an ad agency. I would have loved to meet her as I’ve worked with many writers in my days in the ad agency world.

Peg wrote that “Stayabed Stew” could be left to cook by itself and was perfect “for those days when you are en negligee, en bed, with a murder story and a box of bonbons, or possibly a good case of flu”. What’s not to love there?

Despite the slow-cook process, the dish was totally easy to make and very tasty. Thank you, Peg, for showing us that speed and sustenance – above all – are golden.

foodie tips ~

 I’m pretty sure I forgot to add the ½ can of water; make sure you do this to give it a little more juice.
 My interpretation of this dish involved using cannellini beans, 3 carrots and a russet potato. Delicious.
 If you decide to use peas vs. beans I saw an online post where someone said they added the peas during the last 30 minutes of cooking to avoid them being “mushy.” Seems legit.

i. ingredients

1 pound | stew meat
2 | white onions, cut into chunks
| carrots, cut into chunks
1 | potato, cut into chunks
1 can | cream of mushroom (or celery) soup
½ can | water
to taste | salt
to taste | fresh cracked black pepper
1 can | beans (or peas), including the juice

Stayabed Stew Going Into The Ovenii. what to do

0. Preheat oven to 275°F.

1. Combine everything in a casserole dish with a tight-fitting lid.

2. Cook in oven for 5 hours. No stirring necessary!

Yields: About 5 servings

A Scan Of Mom's Stayabed Stew Recipe Card

julia child’s roast

Julia Childs Roast Recipe

Sometime’s life and eventful timing collide. 

This week we just so happened to randomly select this recipe from many in Mom’s cookbook. After further research … How did we know it was Julia Child’s birthday (August 15th)? And who eats a savory hot roast in summer? Apparently we do!

This recipe requires a little TLC in the kitchen and I think it’s well worth it – the results speak for themselves.

Hats off to you, Julia, for inspiring the joy of cooking in so many people – including my Mom! And thanks for channeling us to find this recipe.

A little taste of the good times.

foodie tips ~

 The sauce below sounds nice. We made it but didn’t think it was necessary; this roast is delicious as is without added layers of flavor and texture.

 By “1/2 cup or more of wine” below, we suggest or more to “keep it real,” as they say. See what you think.

 If you love stews try this Tuscan Beef Stew recipe. This dish makes regular appearances at my table and guests love it.

i. ingredients

4-5 pounds | chuck roast, top or bottom round brisket
to season the meat | salt and pepper
to coat the pan | olive oil
| onions, sliced
| carrots, sliced
| tomatoes, chopped
1 cup | bouillion
eye it | water, to fill pot
1/2 cup or more | wine (I suggest a red)
| bay leaf
pinch | thyme
5 | peppercorns
2 cloves | garlic

ii. what to do

1. Dry the meat – pat it with a few papertowels. Cover it with salt and pepper. Brown it in a pot lined with a coating of olive oil over medium heat. Remove the meat from the pot and set it aside on a plate or on a piece of foil that we will use later (below).

2. Brown sliced onions and sliced carrots in oil. Put the roast back in the pot and add chopped tomatoes, bouillion, water and wine. Flavor with bay leaf, thyme, peppercorns and the garlic cloves. Half or more of the roast should be covered in sauce; add water or wine if necessary. Before putting the lid on the pot, cover the roast with foil so it won’t shrink too much.

Julia Childs Roast Recipe

3. Cook at 300°F or simmer on top of stove 3 – 4.5 hours. About 1/2 hour or so before the roast is done, add onions, carrots, and potatoes if desired.

4. For gravy: drain the fat off the roast juice. Add flour mixed with butter to juice.

Yields: 6-8 Servings

A Scan Of Mom's Handwritten Julia Child's Roast Recipe