Monday, August 9, 2010

Cooking from scratch.

Today, I'm making minestrone, the way my mother made it, the way my grandmother taught her.  The ingredients are the same as hers; the products, however are grown locally, a few miles from here or in my 'orto', vegetable garden.

Is it worth the time it will take? I guarantee you that once you cook something in its authentic form, you will want to do it as often as you can, or as often as you can afford the time.

Time is a real commodity for working people.  I understand that and will take shortcuts too.  However, unless you have tasted the real thing, you will not be able to correct, interpret the abbreviated one.  So, cook something from scratch once a week, and you will taste the fruit of your labor with pleasure and satisfaction.

Minestrone Recipe:

2 C. Cannellini beans, or white navy beans, cooked until soft
2 Bay leaves
4 Cloves of garlic, whole and unpeeled to go with the beans.
2Cloves of garlic, minced fine for the sauce
2 C shredded cabbage
1C diced carrots
1C diced celery
1C diced potatoes
1C whole canned tomatoes
2T olive oil
1 bunch of parsley, chopped
2 C of stock, preferably vegetable, homemade. Use one can of stewed tomatoes, or two cups of V8 if stock not available
1 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a big pot, cook one cup of dried beans until soft, with four cups of water, bay leaf and garlic cloves. When soft, remove the bay leaves, squeeze the garlic, and discard the skins.  If you do not like this much garlic, adjust. Based on the age of the beans, this might take all morning. Farmers' markets sell dried beans that are usually fresh or a season's old. These will cook in less than an hour.
When the beans are soft, add salt and pepper to taste.  Keep warm.

In a  medium skillet, saute' garlic, carrots and celery in olive oil for five minutes. Add the tomatoes without the juice. . When tomatoes have cooked down, drop this into the bean pot.  Now, add the rest of the ingredients, including the reserved liquid from the tomatoes, except the cheese.

The minestrone will need to simmer slowly for about an hour, adding more liquid if needed, for the potatoes and cabbage will soak up liquids and flavors. 

Taste. Add salt and pepper if needed. Add a pinch of dried oregano or thyme, or a bouillon cube if the minestrone needs it.  I know at this point that some vegetables were too bland and will correct it with herbs or a spoonful of pesto added to each serving.

(Pesto recipes will appear in another post!)

Serve in a soup bowl with a generous amount of grated cheese, and crusty bread.


Note: Any leftovers will freeze well if no potatoes are used. So, this time, you have to eat the whole thing in a couple of days. Better yet, invite friends to share.

This is what the dish looks like when all the ingredients are in and before it cooks down at low heat. There is enough for four people. I will have enough for two more meals sometimes in the next few weeks.


  1. p.s. I'm actually cooking this dish this morning. I shall publish the final product before the day is over!

  2. That is a far cry from the mine3strone served here in our Italian restaurants even those advertising "fine Italian Cuisine".

  3. it looks delicious..
    Glad to know that u r an expert on cooking!

  4. Sounds just wonderful. It sounds like something I need to make this weekend.

  5. I even have the same cast iron crock pot as you! I love making soup from scratch. I haven't made this one before and I have all of the ingredients...manyana....

  6. very nice...smells good too...smiles.

  7. glad i popped in for a look around your kitchen. i love minestrone.

  8. I should never read this blog when I'm even a little hungry. Now I must go raid my fridge. Thanks for posting! I'm printing it out for the cook in our family - hubby.

  9. I can smell this cooking all the way here in Georgia!

  10. Folks, it tastes even better the second day. It's a nice feeling to know that you have food for a few days, or until the mood strikes you again.

  11. Looks fabulous! I will definitely put this recipe on my "must try" list, and will try it as soon as it cools off a little. Thanks for sharing!