just a smidgen

Cucina Povera Minestrone Zuppa

It was dark when I left the house this morning… just a light skiff of snow sweeping the streets as I drove in the hushed dawn to meet my friends. I wondered if it was worth all this trouble, to wake early and traverse the city in weather that looked so ominous.

Hot coffee was poured, hands warmed, hugs held and memories caught up. My one friend had lost her husband and daughter… both… within a year to cancer. We reminisced about our teaching years together. We shared all that is new… orchestra… marriages, the usual “catching up” sort of conversation.

The sun was just rising as I made my way back home. Roads were blustering with snow by then, drifting under an icy blue sky overhead. A lone cyclist went past, struggling uphill, fighting the wind and the snow. His bike headlamp shone a wan beam through the falling flakes… it was a true “uphill battle”. How brave and strong he must be, I realized, working so relentlessly to get where he was going…  while I drove in my snug, warm car.

Then I thought about how brave my dear friend was… and is. How “uphill” her battle must still be.

And I said to myself, “This is the face of courage.”

Every day is such a beloved gift.

Take the time to prepare a meal, sit down and share your day. What many of us wouldn’t give for such a simple pleasure…

I didn’t feel like writing a recipe today, but I decided I could be just a bit more courageous myself and finish this post. So I’ll share with you a simple family style winter soup for cold days like this. It’s a Minestrone Soup (“the big soup” in Italian) that my mother-in-law, Jane (another very courageous woman) taught me how to make when I was first married and still learning how to cook. I’ve changed it up a bit over the years, but the recipe still resonates with me as a family meal that must be shared. So many family stories, lectures, words of advice and lots of laughter were shared along with a bowl of this soup and a slice of warm bread… that it’s become a tradition. I’ve given it a new name, I thought it would give “Nanna” Jane a laugh to see her soup all “gussied up” in my blog ♥

Cucina Povera Minestrone Zuppa 

Cucina Povera Minestrone Zuppa
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 4 small carrots, diced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 stalk of celery, diced
  • 2 540 ml (19oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 540 ml (19oz) can cannellini beans
  • (white kidney beans)
  • 1 liter chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 small handfuls baby spinach
  • 2-3 cups green beans, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups dried pasta shells (I used scoobi doo, loved the wiggle!)
  • salt and cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp oregano
  1. Pour olive oil into large soup pot. Bring to medium high heat and add onion, carrots, garlic and celery. Stir and cook until vegetables have slightly softened.
  2. Pour in tomatoes, beans, stock and water. Bring to a simmer.
  3. Add spinach, green beans and pasta noodles. Bring back to a simmer and cook for about 35-40 minutes or until pasta is cooked through and vegetables are soft.
  4. I think some prosciutto added right when serving would be wonderful, as would a dollop of buffalo mozzarella cheese…


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