Friday, November 29, 2013


by Sheila Connolly

Oh, lucky me:  I get to post the day after Thanksgiving.  Could people possibly be hungry?  The choice usually comes down to (a) leftovers (all that turkey just sitting there taking up half the fridge, plus dribs and drabs of the side dishes), or (b) something as far from turkey and fixings as possible, yet still easy to make because you’ve been cooking like a maniac for days.
Soup.  It’s November.  It’s cold and dark and maybe wet.  You want something soothing.  This is the recipe:  minestrone.
There are probably as many minestrone recipes as there are cooks.  It’s a great dish to keep simmering on your back burner, and the beauty of it is that you can add whatever vegetables (preferably fresh, but canned will do) you happen to have on hand. Sure, there’s some chopping involved, but you can take your time. The only restriction is that you have to be on hand to add ingredients every now and then, and the rest of the time the soup simply burbles quietly on low heat.  Serve it with some crusty bread (I usually make corn sticks with this) and you have a complete meal.

1 cup dried beans (white or whatever you prefer)
2 lbs. marrow bones (if these give you the creeps, you can leave them out, but they do contribute to the flavor)
2 1/2 qts. water
3 slices bacon, diced
1 Tblsp. olive oil
1 large onion, minced (about a cup)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 carrot, chopped
1 cup chopped potatoes
1 cup peas
2 small zucchini, diced
The last from my garden
1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
1 cups shredded cabbage
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp. powdered sage (or fresh)
1 tsp. dried basil
1/4 cup raw rice
2 Tblsp. butter
1 Tblsp. minced parsley
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Wash the beans and put them in a large soup kettle. Cover with cold water, bring to a boil, and remove from heat. Let stand 1 hour.
Drain the beans. Add the water and the beef bones. Bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered, for 1 1/2 hours. (I won't give you pictures, because this part is not pretty.)
Sauté the bacon until golden. Drain off the fat. Add the oil to the pan, then the onions and garlic and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. 
Stir in the carrots, potatoes, peas and zucchini and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove the beef bones from the beans. Add fried vegetables, tomatoes, cabbage and seasonings. Simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour.
Add the rice and continue cooking for 30 minutes.
Cream together the butter, cheese and parsley.  Add to the hot soup and stir until dissolved.

See?  Easy, and relatively low fat (you can leave out the butter at the end if you want, but don’t skip the bacon), not to mention warm and homey. By the way, it’s even better the second day, if you have any left.

And even more appropriate because my new book, Reunion with Death (released last week), is set in the north of Italy, where the food is amazing.

Available in print and e-format from


  1. A longtime family favorite that I have not made in many years, Sheila. Thank you for the recipe. It sounds delish.

    When my oldest daughter, now 43, was little she called it "MINEstrone". That still makes me chuckle.

  2. Sheila, this is the perfect antidote to all that rich food we just consumed. Warming, soothing, perfect for a day of relaxation and reading!

  3. You hit this one on the head! Everyone will welcome this lovely soup today, Sheila.
    Happy day after ...

  4. Lovely choice. But only 1 clove of garlic in an Italian soup?!

  5. LOL, Libby! I would throw in more garlic, too. But it sounds delicious on a cold day after eating too much the day before. Or after shopping! Did anyone brave the stores today?