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
No Beans About It
Those who know my passion for chili know that I insist that the best chili on the planet is the chili that contains beans. My hips don’t lie.
Right or wrong this sweet bowl of red texas style chili recipe does not have beans and there’s something about it that I absolutely loved … I nervously shelled about $20 for the steak to the folks at HEB and I’m happy to report that it was absolutely delicious! I learned tonight that I actually prefer this type of chili meat over ground anything (even chili ground) so this recipe taught me never to say never in the kitchen.
foodie tips ~
♥ Salad Oil? It’s not salad dressing; more like veggie oil, olive oil and the like. Read more about salad oil here.
♥ Sorry, onion lovers! To avoid “the burpies” we deviated from this recipe and included all of the onions all at once vs. using some fresh on top to garnish. Feel free to keep it raw and real (note Jill’s recipe card below for details).
♥ Chili Lover? Check out my other family favorite – Kiker’s Kicker Award-Winning Pot Licker Chili recipe. Yay, food awards … I’m important!
♥ For the dismount also consider serving with saltines or tortilla chips. It keeps you honest.
3 ½ – 4 pounds | boneless beef chuck blade steak
¼ cup | salad oil
2 cups | onions, chopped
3 medium | green peppers, diced
4 cloves | garlic, crushed
2 28-ounce cans | tomatoes
12-ounce can | tomato paste
2 cups | water
⅓ cup | chili powder
¼ cup | sugar
2 tablespoons | salt
2 teaspoons | oregano leaves
¾ teaspoon | cracked black pepper
to garnish | monterey jack cheese, shredded
ii. what to do
1. Cut steak into ½” cubes.
2. Heat the oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Cook the meat cubes in clusters ⅓ at a time until it’s all browned. Let’s have a look, shall we?
What a simply delightful video, yes?
3. Remove the meat and set aside, reserving the drippings in the dutch oven.
4. To the drippings add the onions, green peppers and garlic. Cook 10 minutes.
5. Return the meat to the dutch oven and add the next eight ingredients (except the cheese, which is a garnish).
6. Heat to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer at least 1 ½ hours. This gives you enough time to play some Asteroids, Donkey Kong, Burgertime or Galaga.
7. When serving, sprinkle with the cheese and more fresh onion, if desired.
Yields 12 servings. Or 6 hungry Texans.
Below is a scan of the original chili recipe Mom scored from Jill Root.
Who Is Jill Root?
Jill Root was a great lady. She was the mother-in-law of my much, much oldest brother Tim. After my Dad died, Jill, Mom (Betty), Tim and I spent many Christmases together with the rest of the Root family, so I can promise you she had a heart of gold. You can read more about Jill here.
Thank you Jill for this recipe! I found a way to make my chili even better (coming soon).