italian vegetable soup

mom's italian vegetable soupSoup’s On

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 shakeys pizza balloon guypiano 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!

i. ingredientsthe cast of characters for mom's italian veggie 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.

6 Servings

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.

mom's italian vegetable soup recipe


italian dressing

what's this? italian dressing! shake it up and it'll tickle your taste buds.Love Italy?

I’m freshly back from a two week adventure to Italy*, so there’s nothing more relevant to make this week than Italian dressing.

Italian dressing isn’t just for mere lettuce; you can use it to top sliced tomatoes, or marinate meats or potatoes before cooking.

So what are we waiting for? Let’s get shaking!

* Think I’m kidding about an amazing trip to Italy? Click here to visit my other site that celebrates all things Italian!

i. ingredients

1/2 cup | EVOO
2 tablespoons | red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon | fresh basil, chopped (dried basil only if you must)
¼ teaspoon | fresh garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon | gray sea salt
to taste | freshly ground black pepper

If serving dressing atop sliced tomato:

also add | LOTS of green onion tops, sliced
also add | parsley

A view of Lake Como from my rental's balcony view of Varenna. Read more about Lake Como at my site ForTheLoveOfItaly.com - It'll make you a better Texan. :)

A view of Lake Como from my rental’s balcony view of Varenna. Read more about Lake Como at my site ForTheLoveOfItaly.com – It’ll make you a better Texan. :)

ii. what to do

1. Prepare all ingredients and place in a dressing jar.

2. Shake, shake, shake!

3. Enjoy the dressing fresh or refrigerate it up to a week or two.

foodie tips ~

  I doubled the recipe. The more, the better.

  Try using a garlic press if you’re too tired to finely chop.

  You can also add some grated aged romano cheese to the dressing for an awesomely cheesy taste.

  If using as a marinade, add chopped green onion tops and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes … then grill.

  Try the tomato recipe on the recipe card if you want a tasty option for the dressing.

the original italian dressing recipe cardthe original italian dressing recipe card written by mom... the recipe is from mary stephenson's kitchen

Who is “Mary Stephenson”?

We Kikers lived at 2927 Trailend Drive and Mary was the mother of the family living next door to us.

Mary was a fabulous foodie friend of ours and you’ll see a few recipes from Mary’s kitchen here at Betty’s Cook Nook.

Our two families spent many shared dinners and laughs together so I was happy to find some of Mary’s recipes tucked in Mom’s cookbook since the Stephensons were a magnificent and memorable part of my wonder years.


gazpacho

lela's gazpacho soup It’s my 45th birthday this week.

While my birthday is celebrated just 364 days each year, I’m sharing this recipe with you from one of mom’s favorite friends… Lela!

Funny, when I was a child, I didn’t even think twice about soup… and now I know I’ll love this gazpacho even before I eat it!

Get ready to cool off with this delicious foodie veggie favorite!

i. ingredients

1 – 1 pound can | stewed tomatoes
1 – 10-1/2 ounce can | condensed beef broth
1  cup | peeled chopped cucumber
1 cup | chopped celery
1 cup | sliced onions
2 tablespoons | lemon juice
1 small clove | garlic, finely chopped
to taste | fresh ground black pepper

ii. what to do

1. Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized pot.

2. Over medium heat, simmer gently until onions and celery are tender (about 10 minutes).

3. Served chilled.

Foodie Tip ~

  Try fine-chopping the vegetables for a smoother consistency.

Foodie Fun Fact ~

The coordinates on the back of the card? I don’t know the relationship to the recipe, but it looks like they were set in mom’s handwriting (not Lela’s.) Looks like the coordinates will set you in the Gulf of Mexico just outside Corpus Christi… one of our family’s favorite watering holes. Maybe there’s a buried treasure there?

Lela’s actual recipe card is below!

lela swinny's gazpacho recipe


california potato salad

delicious california potato salad

One of the best things about recovering Mom’s cookbook is that I’m able to discover new food journeys with ease. With literally hundreds of recipes to choose from, I didn’t experience them all growing up; in fact I only remember a few special handfuls.

When I stumbled across this unique potato salad recipe that packs a lotta punch compliments of avocado instead of hard boiled eggs, I knew I had to give it a whirl.
I can see why mom clipped this recipe ~ it has a super great taste!

This potato salad made its debute in my cucina on the 4th of July in 2011 and it has since visited many times!

i. ingredients

3 cups | potatoes, cooked then cubed
1 cup | sour creamspices join forces in this california potato salad recipe
½ teaspoon* | salt
½ teaspoon | seasoned pepper
½ teaspoon | caraway seed
to taste | lemon juice
bunch | parsley sprigs
3 | california avocados
¼ cup | chopped onions
8 slices | hickory-smoked bacon, crisped and crumbled
1 | large tomato

ii. what to do

1. Scrub then boil the potatoes in a medium-sized pot. Boil until tender, but not “mushy.” Set aside to cool.

2. Blend the sour cream with the salt, pepper, caraway seed and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice.

3. Chop the parsley to yield ¼ cup; set aside.

4. Cut 2 of the avocados lengthwise into halves, removing the seed and skinning.

the avocado-potato salad mixture before adding the sour cream5. Cube the avocado and gently combine it in a medium-sized salad bowl with the chopped parsley, potatoes, chopped onion, sour cream mixture and 1/2 of the bacon.

6. Arrange additional parsley sprigs on the top around the outer edge of the salad. Cover and chill.

7. To serve, prepare the remaining avocado by slicing lengthwise into halves. Remove the seed and skin and cut into slices. Slice the tomato crosswise then cut the slices in half.

8. Alternate the avocado and tomatoes on top of the potato salad and sprinkle with lemon juice.

9. Sprinkle remaining bacon on top of the potato salad and serve.

Foodie Tips ~

  While the original recipe calls for 1½ teaspoons of salt, I found this a bit too salty and suggest using just ½ teaspoon of salt. You can always add more salt later, should your taste buds beg for it.

  If you prefer, you can omit the ring of parsley used for presentation … and you can dice and scatter the tomatoes and avocado that sit atop the salad.

Buon appetito!

Avocado Bacon Potato Salad

Also Known As “California Potato Salad” This Dish Is Deliciously Dy-No-Mite!

A scan of the original california potato salad recipe from Mom's cookbook

A Scan Of The Original California Potato Salad Recipe From Mom’s Cookbook


meat ball soup

Dinah Shore was one class act. Dinah was one of mom’s favorites and her 1950’s variety show paved the way for Oprah (Sorry, O)!

dinah shore's meatball soup compliments of betty's cook nook

This soup recipe was hand-written in the black cookbook and I chuckled when I saw the note “17 cents/serving… serves 6.” “Nothing much” costs 17 cents these days ~ not even just the tax. But I’m willing to give this recipe a run for my money. It sounds great!

Foodie Side Note ~ I calculated the cost of the soup based on today’s (2011) costs and arrived at a $1.64 per serving cost. While still affordable, that’s an increase of about 900% over the past 60 years!

i. soup ingredients

1 ½ pounds | lean ground beef (or lean turkey)
chopped | fresh parsley
¼ cup | uncooked rice
to taste | salt and pepper
to taste | paprika
handful | flour
8 cups* | water
6 | chopped green onions
3 | chopped carrots
2 cups | fresh tomatoes
½ | chopped green pepper
more | fresh parsley
2 | eggs
1 | juice of lemon

Foodie Tips ~

  Based on my preparation, I’m not sure how 50 meatballs would fit into 4 cups of water. I believe this was supposed to be 4 quarts of water (not 4 cups). I even found validation of a derivative of this recipe at Vicki Lawrence’s website (she knew Dinah, too)!

  If you refrigerate any leftovers, you can discard any grease that rises to the top, which will be more heart healthy.

some of the meatball soup ingredientsii. what to do

1. Mix the ground beef and some chopped parsley, the rice, salt, pepper and paprika. Form into meat balls about 1-to-1 and 1/2″ round, roll each in flour and set aside.

2. To 8 cups boiling water add the onions, carrots, tomatoes and green pepper. Simmer 30 minutes.

3. Gently drop the meat balls into the boiling stock and simmer about 40 minutes, or until rice is done. Don’t have the stock boiling too fast ~ just simmer ~ when adding the the meatballs ready to go into the soupmeat balls, or they will fall apart. And nobody likes mushy soup!

4. About 5 minutes before the stock is done, add more fresh parsley.

5. When done, beat the eggs with juice of one lemon. Add a little of the hot broth to the eggs so they will not cook too fast. Then slowly add this mixture to the soup. You’re ready for take-off.

Buon appetito!

A photo of mom’s original recipe below!

a scan of the original meatball soup recipe


cold avocado soup

A Cold Avocado Soup Recipe From Betty's Cook Nook

A Desperado For Avocado

This recipe held first position in the soups section of mom’s index card file, so undoubtedly it was a favorite. This was the first of mom’s recipes that I made, since I can’t locate the calabacita recipe just yet.

I don’t remember eating any avocados as a child. And despite my mom’s great culinary skills, I remember one night when a pairing of split pea soup and liver arrived in front of me at dinner, which almost ruined my love of green-colored foods (I’ve never liked liver). Hah! Regardless, now in my 40s, I’m a huge fan of avocados, so let’s eat up some avocado soup!

Wait! You didn’t think I’d jump right into the recipe makings without sharing my favorite avocado-inspired commercial with you. Whelp – here you go!

Foodie Tip ~

  I couldn’t find “madrilène” – canned or otherwise… even online – so I’m including extra info below for a recipe I found for making the consommé from scratch.

Overall, the avocado soup recipe would be much faster to make if canned madrilène was available. I’ll keep my eyes out for it and post an update here, if I ever find it. I wrote to Pepperidge Farm and they wrote me back saying they no longer made madrilène but I’m including a picture of it (below) that I found online.

i. soup ingredients

1 ½ | avocados
1 pint (2 cups) | sour cream
1 | chicken bouillon cube
10 ounces | water
1 can | madrilène (a tomato-flavored consommé. see recipe below)
to taste | cayenne pepper
to taste | salt

ii. what to do

1. Put all ingredients in a blender and blend, until smooth. That’s it! Well, almost…

2. Since you may have trouble finding madrilène, below are the tidbits for how to make it.

madrilène ingredientspepperidge farm consomme madrilene. i can't find it in stores!

6 | large tomatoes, peeled*, cored and diced
2 | green bell peppers, cored, seeded and quartered
1 | leek, trimmed and cut into chunks
4 | egg whites, lightly beaten
8 cups | chicken stock
to taste | salt & pepper
1 | small bunch chives, chopped
2 oz | pimiento, chopped

Foodie Tip ~

  For an easy way to remove the tomato peel, boil the tomatoes in water one-at-a-time for 1 minute. Remove tomato and plunge it in a cold water bath. Cut the tomato in ½ and you should be able to easily remove the peel. A presto!

madrilène : what to dos

1. In a large saucepan, add  of the tomatoes and the green peppers, leek and egg whites. Mix well.

2. Add chicken stock and season to taste with salt & pepper.

3. Place pan over medium-low heat and slowly bring to a boil, 5-10 minutes.

4. Strain the mixture through a sieve or strainer lined with cheesecloth or a linen towel.

5. Discard vegetables and refrigerate consomme until serving time.

6. Just before serving, mix the remaining  of the diced tomatoes with the chives and pimiento. You now have a garnish for the soup!

* To enjoy the consomme as “full-on” consommé ~ Place 1 or 2 tablespoons of the tomato mixture in the bottom of each soup bowl. Pour chilled consommé over the pimiento mixture and serve at once. The consommé Madrilène should be thick and syrupy, but not “set.”

** To use part of the consommé in Betty’s Avocado Soup recipe (above) ~ Add 1 ½ cups of the consommé into the blender along with a dash of diced tomatoes, chives and pimiento and blend away. You can garnish with more of the tomato mixture (shown above).

Buon appetito!

~ Patrick

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

Mom's original recipe card for her cold avocado soup

A scan of Mom’s original recipe card – typeset with an old typewriter (circa 1950).