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Momma’s Minestrone Soup

Jan D’Atri | Jan 2, 2013, 2:49 p.m.

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Jan D’Atri

I came across an article on a natural news website recently about victory gardens. It said that during World War II, 20 million family gardens were producing 8 million tons of food that helped provide nourishment needed by soldiers to keep them fighting strong.

The article stated that victory gardens also helped keep the price of food low so the War Department would have more money to spend on military needs. The article concluded that today victory gardens have made a huge comeback, and this time we are fighting the battle to live longer, healthier lives.

When I think of homemade minestrone soup, I think of a victory garden in a pot, loaded with fresh nutritious vegetables in a satisfying comfort food broth.

When my family opened its first restaurant many years ago, a complimentary cup of my momma’s homemade minestrone was delivered to the table for each guest as a warm and inviting introduction of delicious things to come.

Every region in Italy has its own version of this very traditional Italian soup, from a thick almost stew-like consistency to a more tomato broth base with diced vegetables, pasta and beans. Minestrone is generally made with vegetables in season and the beauty of this recipe is you’ll find these veggies readily available all year long. If you’re fortunate enough to have a vegetable garden, you now have a recipe for a victory garden in a pot!

The very best thing about our family’s minestrone soup is that it’s delicious when first served, a bit tastier the next day and even better the day after that! Buon Appetito. Here’s to your good health in 2013.

Momma’s Minestrone Soup

Ingredients:

1/4 cup olive oil

1 large onion, diced

1 stalked of celery, diced

2 medium carrots, peeled and diced

4 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 large Yukon gold potato or two small red potatoes, diced

2 small zucchini, diced

1 cup of fresh or frozen peas

2 cups of fresh spinach, rough chopped

4 ripe tomatoes, diced or 4 oz. tomato sauce

1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

4 quarts of chicken stock

1 1/2 cup elbow macaroni, or broken pieces of pasta

1 1/2 cups canned northern white or pinto beans

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Directions:

In a large soup pot sauté onions, celery, carrots and garlic in olive oil until golden brown. Add potatoes, zucchini, peas, spinach, tomatoes, basil and broth.

Cover and simmer for one hour. Add pasta and beans and cook for 20 minutes more. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Serves 8-10.

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