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
With over 100 Betty’s Cook Nook recipes under my foodie belt I was surprised that this is the first dish that calls for eggplant. I was also surprised that there’s a pretty healthy debate over whether eggplant is a fruit or a vegetable.
Mom loved squash, cucumber and pretty much anything fresh so without doubt eggplant is a welcomed guest at our family’s table.
My favorite part of this chunky tapenade style dish is the eggplant’s sidekick – the olive; it packs a lotta salty love that just warms the belly. Served on a chip or on the side, this savory dish gives your tongue one tasty ride.
Foodie Tips ~
♥ When I first read this recipe I was surprised to learn it was served cold. Try it cold and hot. Cold is great for summer chillin’ and hot is great for cooler months (my preference) … plus you can shave off the time for it to chill several hours. 1 … 2 … get in my belly!
♥ I had never heard of a “salad olive” before and gave up researching its origin – I think it’s basically the same thing as a green pimiento-stuffed olive. While this calls for whole salad olives, I could only find sliced salad olives at my HEB, so that’s what I used and I liked it. Want to learn more about olives? Take a spin at my well-respected foodie friends’ website at Zingerman’s.
♥ I don’t think you have to eat this app solo – experiment with it and find your “flavorite” ways to enjoy it. I ate spoonfuls of mine on a grilled chicken breast atop some pasta and found it made a tasty, chunky red sauce that really brightened up the dish.
1 medium | eggplant, peeled and diced
½ cup | green pepper, chopped
medium | onion, chopped
¾ cup | sliced mushrooms (go fresh)
2 cloves | garlic, crushed
¼ cup | extra virgin olive oil
1 can | tomato paste
¼ cup | water
2 tablespoons | wine vinegar
6-7 ounces | stuffed salad olives
1 ½ teaspoon | sugar
½ teaspoon | oregano
½ teaspoon | sugar
1 teaspoon | salt
⅛ teaspoon | fresh cracked black pepper
ii. what to do
1. Put the first six ingredients into a skillet. Cover. Cook gently, stirring occasionally.
2. Then add the remaining eight ingredients from above. Cover and cook 30 minutes.
3. Chill several hours (if you choose) then serve.
Feeds about 4-6 or more, depending on how you serve.
Here’s a scan of my Mom Betty’s original recipe!
Lasagne is plural for lasagna, so the more, the merrier! This dish is the epitome of comfort food.
Fun Foodie Facts ~
♥ July 29 is National Lasagna Day, just 72 hours from my official birthday!
♥ The word “lasagna” originally referred to the pot the dish was made in – not the dish itself.
♥ While there are several ways to prepare lasagne, most folks automatically think of a red tomato-y ragu when they think of lasagna. The earliest recipes of lasagna date back to the 13th century, before tomatoes were known to Europeans (they came to Europe via South America).
♥ Northern Italy (Emilia-Romagna) is credited as the birthplace of lasagne. For those who don’t know me, if you want to learn more about Italy, check out my website ForTheLoveOfItaly.com – I created this site to inspire all to travel to this magnificent land.
♥ More fun facts about lasagna are here – check all the links!
¾ pound | ground meat
1 tablespoon | olive oil
½ clove | garlic, chopped
1 small | onion, minced
1 can | tomato paste
1 cup | water
to taste | salt and pepper
to taste | parsley, chopped (I suggest Italian flat leaf)
1 | bay leaf
8 ounce package | lasagne
½ pound | mozzarella cheese
¼ pound | ricotta or cottage cheese (small curd)
to garnish | parmesan cheese, grated (not the stuff from the can)
ii. what to do
1. Brown meat in the oil. Add garlic, onion, tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, parsley and the bay leaf. Simmer about an hour. Remove the bay leaf before layering (below).
2. While the sauce is simmering, cook the lasagne (if you aren’t using “no boil” or “oven ready” noodles). Mom would have cooked the noodles the old-fashioned way as the speedy version wasn’t on supermarket shelves until years later. Drain the noodles.
3. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
4. Arrange lasagne in layers alternating with layers of sauce, mozzarella and ricotta. Sprinkle the top with parmesan cheese.
5. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the mozzarella is melted and the dish is heated through.
A Belt Buster
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.
4-5 pounds | chuck roast, top or bottom round brisket
to season the meat | salt and pepper
to coat the pan | olive oil
2 | onions, sliced
2 | carrots, sliced
2 | tomatoes, chopped
1 cup | bouillion
eye it | water, to fill pot
1/2 cup or more | wine (I suggest a red)
1 | 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.
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
One of my earliest cooking tips hailed from a floury, flat, flying disc-like object; the tortilla.
Cooked in soup, tortillas were the fast and economical way to plump up chicken and dumpling soup, rather than making dumplings by hand. This cooking tip was shared with mom by our family friend and housekeeper Miss “Essie.”
I don’t remember a day when Essie wasn’t smiling. She was rich with a happiness that money cannot buy and she was a hard-working lady who helped our family for many years. She helped Mom pick-up and organize the house as Mom was more than busy raising three boisterous boys (I was the angel son, of course) and working as an independent contractor; a court reporter.
When the temperatures start to drop, I search for loose clothing, as I know chicken and dumpling season is among us. There’s no better comfort food than the warm, silky, doughy greatness of this belly pleaser.
I’m tucking this recipe here in Mom’s digital cookbook as it’s one of my favorites and certainly a dish I would make for Mom, Dad and you. Over the years, I’ve adapted this recipe and often include rosemary, one of my favorite homegrown herbs.
Let’s Get Cookin’
i. soup ingredients
1-2 pounds | boneless chicken breast, cubed.
2-3 medium | white onions (1 onion will be pierced with cloves, 1-2 onions will be chopped)
splash | olive oil for sautéing (or some chunks of butter, if you’d like)
8 | whole cloves
3-4 medium | carrots, cut into 2-inch chunks
2 sprigs | parsley on stem (or cilantro, if you prefer)
1 teaspoon | salt
2-4 sprigs | rosemary (not chopped, just for flavor)
½ teaspoon | freshly ground black pepper
2 | celery ribs, chopped
4 cups | water (or chicken broth, if you want to pump up the jam)
1 cup | whole milk
ii. dumpling ingredients
1 cups + 3 tablespoons | sifted flour
1 + ½ teaspoons | baking power
dash | salt (and some pepper, if you’d like)
2 tablespoons | shortening, chilled
½ cup | milk for dumplings plus ¼ cup milk for a “slurry”
2 – 4 sprigs (~ 4” each) | chopped rosemary
iii. foodie tips
❤ Add more pepper if you have a cold. Trust me.
❤ You can add more herbs if you like. Bay leaves, cilantro or thyme are all good. You can place the herbs in a cheese cloth and tie-off the ends so you don’t have to “fish” the herbs and stems out of the soup. You can also season the dumplings with some fresh cracked pepper or chopped rosemary or thyme.
❤ Need more fillin’? I’ve tried this by adding a couple of cans of yellow corn and chopped green chilies. My taste buds and tummy “high fived” each other.
❤ If you haven’t already read here on Betty’s Cook Nook, when I say butter, “Falfurrias Butter” is implied. Thank you to my Grandmother, Nanny!
❤ To form the dumplings I prepare them all ahead of time so they cook for a consistent amount of time. To yield about 40 dumplings I use a teaspoon to help cut the dough into similarly-sized dumplings. Hand roll them tight and use flour on your hands if you find the dough becomes sticky.
iv. what to do
1. Make Soup: In a large pot, sauté the chicken with 1 or 2 of the chunk-chopped onions and oil (or butter). Gently place into the pot the onion that’s pierced with cloves then add the carrots, celery, parsley (or cilantro), salt, rosemary, pepper, 1 cup of the milk, and 4 cups water (or chicken broth). Bring to a boil over medium heat stirring occasionally (between glasses of wine, of course). Reduce to low and simmer covered for one hour. Simmering will give you ample time to drink more wine and make the dumplings! [ side comment: Please realize step 1 is really 14 steps rolled into 1 but nobody will make soup that requires a lot of steps.]
2. Make Dough: I usually jumpstart my dumplings 25-30 minutes before the soup is done with its hour-long simmer. Sift 1 cup of the flour, the baking powder and salt (and pepper, if you choose) together in a medium-sized mixing bowl (I use my KitchenAid). Cut in chilled shortening until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add ½ cup milk all at once, any seasonings (pepper, rosemary or thyme) and mix until dough holds together.
3. Make Dumplings: Form your dumplings per the cooking tip above. When they’re all ready remove the onion pierced with clove, parsley (or cilantro) and rosemary from the soup and discard. With a slotted spoon, remove the chunky items (chicken, carrots, celery) from the soup and place them in a bowl to rest/set aside. It’s OK to leave some of the chopped onion in the pot as it’s hard to fish out! Bring the remaining soup to a simmer and drop the dumplings on top of the liquid. Simmer the soup uncovered for 10 minutes; then cover and simmer 10 more minutes.
4. Make Slurry & Prepare To Dismount: Stir the remaining 3 tablespoons flour into the remaining ¼ cup milk until smooth. You just made “slurry!” Stir the slurry into the soup and bring things to a boil. Stir until thickened. Return the chunky items from the bowl to the soup and simmer for a few minutes. Spoon into bowls and sprinkle with chopped parsley (or cilantro or rosemary).
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook