Tasty Tangents

Food, life and other morsels

From Mom…A Letter of Love

In my family, food is all mixed in with loving, sharing, family traditions and shared memories.

Reproduced with permission and edited just a little, below you’ll find an email from my mom to my sister living overseas with some great tips for quick and healthy soups that are perfect for the final days of winter.

Mom's Easy Cabbage Soup

Hi Joanna,

It is with hope that you will find your own favourite way to produce the tastiest soups and minestrone type dishes that I write to you a little bit about the process.

My soup this evening was made at about 5 p.m. when I wanted to quickly produce a low calorie dish that would taste good. Sound impossible?  Well it is possible.

I chopped about a quarter of a head of green cabbage into a pot and covered it with boiling water.  I added a cup of leftover plain tomato sauce and added salt and pepper to taste.

The pot came to a full boil and I added a half cup of left over stir fry (onions, zucchini, peppers and carrots).  I chopped some parsley and added it to the pot.

This simmered for about an hour and was ready to serve.  I cooked some brown rice and served the soup in a bowl with some rice.  We topped it with grated Pecorino cheese.

A drizzle of olive oil could have been added but we got plenty of taste from the many ingredients.  Delicious!

You asked for the basic recipe for borlotti beans.  The dry beans can be soaked overnight and then cooked in a pot for about an hour. Rinse them and cover them with water and add a bay leaf and a clove of garlic in the pot.They should be cooked at a low boil and when the beans are tender and ready you add the salt to taste.  You can use the beans for many dishes.

Here is my basic minestra recipe. (More commonly known as Italian Wedding Soup.)

Ingredients:

2 cups approx. cooked or canned beans (rinse well if using canned)
1 onion chopped
1 stalk of celery chopped
1 carrot chopped
1 tomato fresh chopped plus 1 cup water or  1 cup of canned tomatoes
2 small slices of pancetta or bacon chopped (optional)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 potatoes peeled and cubed
1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper or to taste
a bay leaf

Begin by putting the olive oil, onions, pancetta (if using), and sautee for a few minutes.  Add the celery, carrots, tomato and bring to a boil then simmer for about 5 minutes.

Add the potato and cover with boiling water (about a litre) or use broth.  This is the basic part of the soup that cooks for about 45 minutes and is ready for adding the beans.

Salt and pepper to taste and correct for liquid (add some water or broth if it is too dense). After a low boil for about 5 minutes the soup is ready.

You can serve this soup as it is or with rice, tubetti or any pasta.  It is a good idea to rest the soup before serving.  Cover it and wait 5 minutes if you can. Wink, Wink.

If you have any questions please let me know.

Love,
Mom

And the result, beans and minestra on the stove in a French kitchen.

3 Comments

  1. I know it’s a cliche, but the secret ingredient truly is love. My mother-in-law is clearly a very loving person.

  2. Let me just tell you all that this is an amazing recipe to know by heart. I replacied the pancetta for bacon, the little bacon chunks we get here in europe, and this gave the soup a fantastic smoky flavour. Not only was the soup quick to prepare and cook but it also came out AMAZING!! Was never so proud to be my mother’s daughter, an epic minestra success, delicious and nutritious, 1000 times better than any soup I would likely never eat out of a box or can PS the borlotti beans I had cooking on the side were also ridiculously easy and after using about 1 cup of them in the soup I had the rest of them in the fridge to eat as a salad, fried or otherwise all week

  3. Hi everyone,
    It is great to share this family recipe with all of you. I hope that my children remember the wonderful minestra meals that were prepared by their grandmother, the late nonna Armandina. She was the role model for me when she prepared everything with love.