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. :)
❤ 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.
2 cups | navy beans
4 quarts | cold water
5 | 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
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!
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook
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 …
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.
3. 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!
After I safely recovered Mom’s cookbooks in 2011, I was quick to notice one thing missing – recipes from her Mom – Nanny. Nanny was the Grandparent I was closest to and she had a few “home run” recipes like her coconut-fruit (Ambrosia) salad, homemade chicken noodle soup and waffles served hot from the press. What’s not to like there?
I’ve been deeply saddened that Mom didn’t have any of Nanny’s recipes in her own cookbook but I find “the closer to home, the less likely you are to write things down.” This is certainly true with cooking as many of Mom’s favorite recipes were in her head – not on paper – so good luck to us all in documenting our family’s tried and tastefully-true recipes!
My family’s recipe void began changing earlier this spring when I visited Julie, who’s my 1st Cousin and our family’s much loved Matriarch. Julie has a mind like a steel trap, so after blogging my way through almost 100 of Mom’s recipes I decided to dig deeper; a trip to San Antonio with the specific culinary reconnaissance mission of recovering a few family recipes I didn’t have. And recover, I did!
In addition to Julie gifting me Nanny’s Iced Tea recipe, I scored the Grandmother-load of all – Nanny’s Barbecue Sauce Recipe (below) which we’ll get to in a moment. Why, in a moment? Well, for those of you who haven’t read most of Betty’s Cook Nook you may be disappointed to hear that I have the gift of gab which translates quite nicely online as I’m also fast-to-type (so was my Mom, Betty). So if you want a “CliffsNotes” version of this recipe, you best scroll down to this post’s “Foodie Tips” section and continue on. If you want to read a free and fabulous story about family and food, read on!
The Art Of Family Cooking
When creating Betty’s Cook Nook I knew I wanted to weave in family stories along with our recipes because to me, eating goes hand-in-hand with daily living for all of us regardless of geography, culture or perceived socioeconomic status. Celebrating great food and friends was something my parents Betty and Louis absolutely loved to do, so it just felt right to try to honor my Mom’s love for cooking by creating this blog so I could translate her conventional cookbook online for generations to come.
While my storytelling is primarily for my family, I’ve heard from several non-family members – even strangers – who say they love reading the stories so I know the true essence of my effort extends far beyond a handful of my closest family members, maybe even to you! So I want to share a really touching story about something that happened today that directly ties to this recipe in the most fantastic way.
Who Do You Think You Are? (a.k.a. You Are What You Eat!)
For a few years I’ve enjoyed watching the TV series “Who Do You Think You Are.” I’ve seen some incredible stories uncovered through research. Because I lost my parents at a young age I have several family “holes” to fill, so last night after watching Valerie Bertinelli‘s amazing story I finally signed-up for a free 2-week trial at Ancestry.com. No, the folks at Ancestry didn’t pay me to write this post, but they should have. ;)
I was instantly addicted to my family’s online research – I’m quite skilled at online sleuthing, so Ancestry.com fits right up my alley. Within a few hours I had connected over 50 of my family members dating back to 1874. One of the most impressive things I quickly found was the address where my grandparents “Nanny” and “PaPaw” and my Mom “Betty” lived in 1944 thanks to a local city directory listing. Years after I grew-up in San Antonio, lived in Dallas 20 years then moved to Italy and returned to Texas in 2012 I learned they lived just 20 miles from where I live today in Austin, Texas … and I had no clue!
With their home address I was quickly able to find driving directions – even score a recent picture of the house from GoogleMaps.com. The home was a charming stone house, and the more I looked at the online photo I realized it looked strangely similar to one photo among the thousands of family photos that I have. It was well after midnight so I went to bed. At 4am hope and excitement woke me up. I pulled out the family photos and within 10 minutes had found the match for the online photo!
I knew I had to visit the house today. While the Google picture from the front of the street looked relatively the same with just a few modern updates to the carport and entry, I was nervous the house was no more as online records suggested their house had quadrupled in size. Today I bundled-up my two Labs “Boomer” and “Harley” and drove to Nanny’s and Mom’s old neighborhood and was thrilled to find that the house had not been torn down – it was doing just fine – including the two huge oak trees that flanked the 1981 family picture I have of the house (above).
The Way We Were
Standing in front of the house was a bit strange for me. While my feet were 70 years late arriving to the party, I felt an awesome peace; the peace that comes from discovering something special. I pictured the old 1938 stone house with my Mom “Betty” and her Sister “Delores” playing in the yard … then my Grandmother “Nanny”, sticking her head out the screen door to summon her two girls to dinner.
Today, while I may have arrived 70 years late for dinner, I’m able to recreate one of their family favorites thanks to Nanny’s Barbecue Sauce recipe. So can you!
Foodie Tips ~
♥ This sauce works well with chicken, beef or pork. Feel the force!
♥ Julie said my Grandfather Harry would make a basting “sop mop” by wrapping a T-shirt strips around a stick. Feel free to create your own … or use a modern silicon basting brush shown above.
♥ What are those yellow wrappy-things below? They’re lemon cover stretch wraps and you can find them online or at a store near you! They make juicing lemons a seedless, pulp-less pleasure!
♥ A nice side for this dish would be one of my all-time favorites here on BCN – California Potato Salad. It’s that good!
1 cup | shortening
3 | white onions, peeled and quartered
1 | green bell pepper, cut into chunks
4 pieces | celery, cut up
1 can | tomatoes (we used a 14.5 ounce can of diced toms)
1 can | tomato sauce (we used a 15 ounce can of Hunt’s)
½ cup | vinegar
2 cups (or more) | water
1 | lemon, juiced then quartered and everything added, including the peel
3 teaspoons | yellow mustard
¼ cup | catsup
2 teaspoons | chili powder
3 teaspoons | salt
1 teaspoon | fresh cracked black pepper
2 dashes | hot sauce
2 dashes | tobasco
¼ cup (or more) | worcestershire sauce
ii. what to do
1. In a large stock pot simmer everything uncovered until it’s all cooked down and reduced. While the original recipe below says “at least ½ hour,” my Cousin Julie was quick to point out that it takes much longer than noted! I think we simmered everything for about 2 hours, stirring every few minutes.
2. Taste and adjust the sauce as you like, because these measurements aren’t “exactly right!” Gottaloveit.
3. When the sauce is done to your liking, baste the meat on the grill with a sop mop or basting brush. We made sure to heavy-up on the last basting just before removing everything from the grill.
If you want to enjoy this the way Julie said our family did (throw away nothing), save the vegetables and serve them as a side dish for your barbecue meal.
Family Fun Facts ~
♥ The vintage “Fire King” measuring cup above is Betty’s; it has surely measured-up over the years and can probably tell bountiful stories about the families and friends it has fed! I alone can tell more than a few stories. :)
♥ Cousin Julie told me that when they lived in the old stone house my Grandpaw Harry worked at the IRS in Austin; turns out he was too old to enlist for WWII so worked this government job instead. What’s even more impressive is that my Mom (Betty) her Sister (Delores) and Delores’ Daughter Julie (my Cousin who was barely 2 in 1944) also lived in the house. It must have been a lively party of five, indeed! Delores also worked at the IRS which Julie said was “filled with women” as most men were off serving in the war.
♥ Cousin Julie said Nanny and PaPaw (Grandpaw Harry) would hose down the old stone house above in the hot summer days to keep it cool inside; these were days before air conditioning!
♥ Here’s my original scan of Nanny’s BBQ recipe – Cousin Julie said this was Nanny’s recipe penned by Mom’s sister Delores Sutton who is one of the most elegant ladies I ever met. I love her handwriting! The paper? It can tell a story all its own. Click the pic for a bigger view.
The old saying goes “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
I know Mom loved this recipe: a) because I found it in her cookbook and b) because it has black pepper in it and I love pepper and know she did as well!
Foodie Tips ~
♥ Never trust anything that is ⅛ teaspoon in size. Either don’t waste your time adding it into your dish or pump up the jam and add more. In this case I’d add way more than ⅛ of pepper. Go for the gusto!
1-½ pounds | round steak, cut 1/2 inch thick
¼ cup | all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon | salt
⅛ teaspoon | fresh cracked pepper
¼ cup | cooking oil or shortening (we used oil)
8 ounce can (1 cup) | tomatoes
1-¾ cups | water
½ cup | white onion, chopped
1 clove | garlic, minced
1 tablespoon | beef-flavored gravy base
1-½ teaspoons | worcestershire sauce
2 large | green peppers, cut into strips
to serve | hot cooked white rice
ii. what to do
1. Cut steak into strips.
2. Combine flour, salt and pepper and coat the steak strips.
3. In a large skillet, cook the steak strips in hot oil until until browned on all sides.
4. Drain the tomatoes, reserving their liquid.
5. Add the tomato liquid, water, onion, garlic, and gravy base to the steak. Cover and simmer in the skillet for about 75 minutes until the meat is tender.
6. Uncover and stir-in the worcestershire and the green pepper strips. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes more. If desired, you can thicken the gravy by adding a mixture of flour and cold water.
7. Add the drained tomatoes then cook for about 5 minutes.
8. Take a few deep sniffs of your dish. It smells like AWESOME!
TO SERVE: Pour spoonfuls of the peppery steak and gravy over hot rice. The recipe says this yields 6 servings. But if you’re like me, this dish actually yields 2 bountiful servings. :)
This dish was brought to you by the letter “P”!
PS ~ Now that we have peppered steak on the brain let’s watch a Peter Piper video from one of my favorite childhood TV shows – Sesame Street.
Picadillo Is My Pillow
In March 2014 my awesome Cousin Julie gifted me the recipe for this ole time family favorite.
What a great gift! I remember Mom talking about “picadillo” but the recipe wasn’t in her cookbook. Luckily, it was in her sister Delores’ cookbook that Julie has in her care!
Totally flexible, this Cuban-inspired dish made its way to San Antonio kitchens before the days of the internet … and into my heart 4ever. A foodie’s BFF.
♥ The original recipe scan below makes mountains of this delicious stuff. My Cousin Julie said the portions were large because her Mom, “Delores,” would often serve this dish at parties. I divided the recipe down, down, dowwwwwn into 6ths below. And yet after Joe and I ate it all, we wanted more.
♥ Cousin Julie was very specific – unless you don’t mind soggy almonds, sprinkle the almonds on top just before serving; or set them aside in a serving bowl with a spoon.
♥ Cousin Julie also said this picadillo freezes well. Sweet! If you freeze or refrigerate it overnight, add more dry sherry when reheating. It’s the honest thing to do.
♥ You can serve picadillo many ways – on top of scrambled eggs, breakfast tacos, nacho chips or inside tacos. This stuff is so good I even ate some with a shovel-spoon or two… :)
1 pound | ground round
⅓ cup | dry sherry
1 teaspoon | salt
⅓ teaspoon | pepper
3 | japaleños, chopped
1 clove | garlic, chopped
splash | oil
4.8 ounces | canned tomatoes
⅔ cup | tomato sauce
2 tablespoons | pimiento
to taste | raisins
⅓ teaspoon | oregano
½ cup | water chestnuts, sliced
⅔ cup | canned mushrooms, sliced
flour or corn tortillas
tostitos brand scoops
⅓ cup | salted almonds, diced
ii. what to do
1. In a medium-sized pan over medium heat, bring the first 5 ingredients (see “marinate”) to a happy sauté.
2. Add “the mixture” ingredients (the 9 ingredients) above and simmer, covered, about 1 hour. Stir occasionally.
3. Uncover and stir until “mushy.”
4. Serve with your preferred foodie accents and style (above). And smile. :)
There’s something special about any soup recipe that calls for Velveeta.
Oh, I know, I know – Velveeta is not “real cheese,” but tell that to my stomach. The mere thought of the cheese-like stuff makes me weak in the knees. Toss in Pace picante sauce, avocado and chorizo and you have a dish that’s straight out of the 1970s with culinary crosshairs for your next meal.
Healthiness aside, I thought this soup was a super-tasty and f l e x i b l e soup that can accommodate any of your special ingredients to make it one all your own.
Foodie Tips ~
♥ When using ground chorizo, the finished texture was too grainy for me; on the next go of this I think chorizo links cut into chunks would yield a chunkier texture.
♥ My Cousin Julie said to try “Portuguese Chorizo,” if you can find it.
1 pound | chorizo
1 large | white onion, diced
2 stalks | celery, diced
1 | green pepper, diced
3 cans | chicken broth
2 | tomatoes, cut into bite-sized chunks
to taste | cilantro, chopped
16 ounce jar | pace thick and chunky picante sauce (mild)
½ pound | velveeta
to serve | fresh avocado, diced
to serve | tortilla chips (or fritos)
to garnish | more cilantro, chopped
ii. what to do
1. In a medium-sized pan over medium-high heat, brown the chorizo, onion, celery and green pepper.
2. Add the broth, tomatoes, cilantro and picante sauce and simmer 1 hour, uncovered. Relax in your comfy chair or couch while you catch-up on your latest 1-hour of DVR programming. :)
3. Add Velveeta to the soup and stir here and there, until melted.
4. Serve soup into individual bowls. Top with avocado, chips or fritos … and a tad more cilantro.