Celery Cabbage(Savoy/Spring Greens)
Spring Onion Borlotti Beans(tinned or dried.
You might have to soak and boil the dried ones)
Water or Stock
Don't worry about the quantities. Aim for roughly the same amount of the vegetables. Don't stint on the parsley. Chop everything small and the parsley finely. Put everything except the cabbage and rice in a pan. There should be a couple of inches of water above the veg. Bring it to the boil and then turn the heat down so it is still bubbling a bit If you think it needs more stock/ water at any stage just add it to the pan, preferably hot. Cook it for half an hour. Then add the cabbage and 5 minutes later, the rice. It should be ready in 10 -15 minutes. The rice and the beans give it body. If you want to add to the thickness of it, keep some cooked beans back, mash them and put them into the soup at the end.
My Nonna, worn out with 10 children, 2 of whom died at 6 months and an alcoholic husband who was away with the Carabinieri in the war, made the most delicious minestra, a rich vegetable soup with a variety of vegetables, particularly cabbage and beans. Her children loved it because they were hungry. My Mam says they used to have bread and milk for breakfast, polenta for lunch and almost always minestra for tea. They had meat on Sundays - maybe a bit of boiled beef and only then would there be a bit of stock to add to the soup, otherwise Nonna would add a bit of pig fat from the pig they fattened and killed every year. The minestra was less watery when she fed it to her grandchildren. We were all more prosperous then,and, as children, we hated that soup, it was sludgy and lumpy, you were never quite sure what was in it and the cabbage went grey. We weren't hungry like our parents. We knew what pizza looked like. Red and white and beautiful.
As I got older I realised how wonderful it was. Later on in her life she got a bee in her bonnet about Italian Food being the best in the world and her children would tease her that she only knew how to make polenta, minestra, pastina and risotto. That was almost true but what she cooked was always fresh and healthy and, except for the polenta, delicious!
Tuesday, 29 August 2017 00:48
Nonna's MinestraWritten by Maggi Green
Published in Aug-Oct-2017