I’m not sure who coined the phrase atop this recipe but after enjoying this hearty salad I discovered it to be quite true!
The mere mention of Thousand Island dressing takes my laughs back to the 1980s with this memorable scene from the movie “Cracked Up” where Jerry Lewis’ character gets a little more service than he bargained for thanks to this rigorously exhaustive waitress!
Despite my salad sign as a Leo, fate had a fresh bottle of Thousand Island dressing in my hands so that’s what I used. What’s your salad sign?
❤ I’ve included Mom’s original recipe scan below. I enjoyed the way the ingredients were organized (chop, toss, crunch, slice, brown, decorate) but I’ve taken liberties to put the typed instructions in order to help make it easy for you to prepare.
❤ Red, white, or yellow onion – it’s all up to you! If you prefer your onion cooked you can add it to the beef medley when browning; otherwise get ready for a little “oompf” from the uncooked fresh onion kick, as did I.
❤ While I’m 99% confident that Mom used tortilla chips for this dish I went with tortilla strips – their multi-colors are more festive than their typical chip cousin plus they’re easier to eat with a fork! Tip: HEB makes tasty Tri Color Tortilla Strips that I stock in my kitchen. Now if you’re eating this dish with your hands, step up to the plate (or bowl) and get some full-sized tortilla chips … or better yet a bag of Fritos Scoops!
❤ This recipe makes A LOT of salad. I believe in its entirety this dish will serve up to 6 as a main course and even more as a sidekick! You can easily half the ingredients for 2-3 people.
❤ Make sure and introduce your tortilla chips (strips), avocado, and tomatoes just before serving; nobody likes a limp tortilla chip, brown avocado or mushy tomato! As you would guess it this dish is best consumed fresh as with leftovers the dressing will make your lettuce turn sad and soggy.
for the salad:
1 head | lettuce, chopped
1 | onion, chopped
4 | tomatoes, chopped
8 ounces | thousand island or french dressing
4 ounces | cheddar cheese, grated
to top | tortilla chips or strips
to top | avocado, sliced or cubed
ii. what to do
1. In a medium-sized pan over medium-high heat brown the beef. Halfway through browining add the kidney beans and the salt. While the meat-medley is simmering for 10 minutes…
2. In a large serving bowl introduce the salad ingredients – lettuce, onion (unless browning), tomatoes. Pour your dressing on top and mix well. You can set this into your refrigerator to chill for a few minutes or if your beef is ready…
3. Give one last mix to stir things up a bit… then toss in your beef mixture, top with cheese, chips, and your avocado. Serve pronto!
Yields up to 6 servings (using full ingredients)
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook
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
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.