Jane is my mother-in-law. Wonderful, intelligent, active and a bit cooking challenged. I truly loved her but, cooking was not one of her strong points.
To be fair, there were a few dishes she made that I absolutely loved. This soup is one of them. She probably clipped it from a magazine or the food section of the paper. She always cut the recipes out, carefully taped them onto a 3x5 index card and stowed them in the requisite recipe box. All very 1950s. I still have that recipe box. When she passed I kept, as remembrances, the recipe box and a very small figure of an ibis that she loved.
I remember the day she told me about this soup. She raved about it. Together we marveled that you don’t stir it for the first 10 minutes and that it makes its own broth from the moisture in the vegetables. I was soon hooked and made it several times over the summer & fall seasons. I gave the recipe to my sister and now she’s hooked.
It’s all vegetables, a few herbs and spices, a little olive oil—that’s it. Easy. Healthy. Flavorful. The latest batch I made is even more healthy and flavorful because it’s made from organic produce from The Community Supported Garden at Genesis Farm in Blairstown, NJ.
If you want to bump it up a bit try adding beans for protein or gluten free pasta. And, experiment with the veggies—that’s half the fun!
By the way, this recipe freezes very nicely. I often defrost and eat it for lunch. Such a treat.
Jane’s Garden Minestrone
2 or 3 large tomatoes
2 medium onions
1 clove garlic
Head romaine lettuce/escarole
1 ½ cups green beans or 10 ounce package frozen lima beans
10 ounce package frozen peas
2 tablespoons minced basil
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt & pepper, to taste
You’re going to layer the vegetables in a heavy bottomed soup pot (at least 3 quarts) in this order: tomatoes, onions, zucchini, garlic, lettuce, peas, & beans.
Peel the tomatoes. The method I use: make an X in the tomato in a few places with a sharp knife, dip each in boiling water for about 45 seconds, cool. The skins should easily peel right off. Slice them and layer them in the pot.
Peel and thinly slice the onions and layer over the tomatoes. Do the same with the zucchini. Mince the garlic and sprinkle over top.
Coarse chop the lettuce or escarole (spinach or cabbage would work, too) and into the pot.
Cover all with the green or lima beans and peas.
Chop the parsley and basil and sprinkle over the top. Pour in the olive oil.
Put the pot on a medium to medium high burner for about 10 minutes – do not stir. You’ll hear the juices begin to bubble – you can turn the heat down a notch or two – just make sure the soup is still simmering away.
After 10 minutes stir the soup and mix it well. Cook covered for about 30 minutes more. Add salt and pepper to taste. Now would also be the time to add cooked beans or cooked pasta to the soup to make it a heartier meal.
I like to serve it topped with a little grated pecorino romano cheese made from sheep’s milk.