Now that there's a chill in the air (however temporary), I'm starting to think of making my favorite cold weather foods. At the top of the list is my family's minestrone recipe. It's from an era when Italian food was still considered a novelty in the U.S., so it should come as no surprise that my grandmother's copy of the recipe was titled "Mama Mia's Andante Minestrone" - a nice Italian stereotype complete with a little play on the slow-cooking aspect of the dish.
I'm not saying it's a particularly authentic minestrone, but it's still delicious on a cool day. Here's the recipe, with the title suitably shortened:
1 cup dry Great Northern beans (rinsed)
1 package stew meat (or a soup bone, if you can still find such a thing)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1-2 cloves pressed garlic
1-2 ribs of celery, sliced
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 small can tomato sauce
1 small can tomato paste
1 small head of cabbage, chopped
1/2 cup dry shell noodles
Early in the day, brown the stew meat in a little olive oil in the bottom of a soup pot, add beans, fill pot with water and simmer through the afternoon, uncovered, occasionally stirring and adding water as needed. Workday option: brown the meat in a frying pan, place it in a crockpot with the beans, fill crockpot with water and cook all day on "Low" (covered, of course).
Once the beans are soft, heat olive oil and add onion, garlic and celery in a frying pan. Saute until vegetables are just beginning to brown lightly, then add oregano and parsley. Transfer vegetables to soup (if you started this in a crockpot, pour the meat, beans and water into a soup pot on the stove) and add salt, pepper, tomato sauce and paste, cabbage and noodles. Simmer 30 to 45 minutes until cabbage is soft. Add additional salt to taste before serving.
This recipe makes a lot - I generally save it for when I'm having company. It's great reheated, though, even if you've frozen the leftovers. I wish I had some right now - I don't care if it's breakfast time. Perhaps next week...