A blog by ordinary people about living an extraordinary life

My Italian Grandmother: Me

With colder weather settling in here in Boston, and another full CSA share to use this week, it is time to make soup.  I think that if someone had not first invented soup there would no way that Meghan could survive a winter here in New England.  And one of our favorite soups in minestrone.

Hearty and colorful, full of local vegetables, this soup truly eats like a meal.

Our favorite minestrone recipe is from The North End Italian Cookbook.  While this recipe has some dozen ingredients, the recipe is so flexible that you can add or remove almost at will.  Add some chicken or ham, throw in any vegetables or starch that you have on hand.  In fact, minestrone belongs to the style of cooking known as cucina povera or directly translated “poor kitchen.”  What this recipe may represent in using leftover vegetables and pasta (poor cooking) it certainly makes up for with a rich flavor.

Some of the changes I made to the recipe include the use of frozen beans that I had prepared months ago.  These were dried garbanzos, black beans and red kidney beans that I had made large batches of and then frozen.  I also used some celery root (celeriac) in place of the celery.  The carrots and cabbage also came from the CSA share this week.  And I made the recipe vegetarian by using vegetable stock in place of chicken stock.

I always find it helpful to gather all your ingredients before you start preparing the meal.

Please give this recipe a try, and add your own twists.  I look forward to hearing how it turns out in your kitchen.


  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 24 ounces of beans (I used a combination of frozen kidney, garbanzo and black beans, and 14 ounces of cannalini beans)
  • 1/2 a celeriac, chopped
  • 4 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cabbage, shredded
  • 2 cups of vegetable stock
  • 8 ounces of frozen peas
  • 8 ounces of canned green beans, not drained
  • 1 tablespoon of pesto
  • 5 San Marzano tomatoes, chopped with juices
  • 1/2 cup of cooked orzo
  • salt and pepper
  • rind of Parmesan cheese
  • fresh grated Parmesan cheese

In a large stockpot, combine the first 9 ingredients.  Cover and over medium-low heat bring to a boil.  Continue to stir every 15 minutes, and cook for 2 hours.  Season with salt and pepper.

Cut the celeriac in half, then slice of the skin and chop it up.

Add the pesto, tomato and orzo.  Season once again with salt and pepper.  Add the Parmesan rind and leave in the soup over low heat for about 30 minutes.  Remove the rind and turn off the heat to allow the soup to cool a little before serving.

Serve with grated Parmesan cheese on top if you like (we did not).

I also made a homemade loaf of braided bread, warm with a crunchy crust, to serve alongside the soup.

Nothing warms up a cold night better than a homemade soup (and of course some homemade bread).


One comment on “My Italian Grandmother: Me

  1. Meg
    November 20, 2012

    Looking forward to that amazing bread recipe. Could have eaten the entire loaf!

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This entry was posted on November 20, 2012 by in Peter Waterman's posts, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , .
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