Archive for the ‘soups’ Category

Life is Good Minestrone Soup


Been dealing with the joys and complications of retirement.  There I was with a whole lotta free days and just as quickly they got filled with wonderful things like writing, cooking, babysitting, visiting with friends and alas, health problems. Two heart stents later, a second delightful grandson and new digs in a safe neighborhood stabilized me and now I’m happy, happy, happy. 

 So what do I do when I’m happy ?  COOK UP A STORM ! 

It’s been cold here in Alameda, California. We’ve had unprecedented freezing high 20 degree weather here. Okay, you Mid-Westerners, stop snickering…..

So what can I do but make SOUP!  Spelt soup, mushroom barley soup, kale and potato aka caldo verde, everything green soup,Thai chicken soup, to name just a few but my absolute favorite is MINESTRONE.  It’s easy and fail proof. You can pretty much put more or less of most ingredients in the recipe and you’ll end up with a rich, savory potage of green, red, orange, yellow veggies full of vitamins and minerals.

Make a big pot and if it seems too much, put some in the freezer for later. You’ll love yourself when you defrost and heat it up after being out all day.



Life is Good Minestrone Soup


¼ cup olive oil

½- l cup ( ½ inch thick) pancetta*- diced

1 large onion- chopped

4-5 medium carrots chopped

1 ½ cups chopped celery or fennel root or stalks

1-2  cups chopped bell pepper

1 cup white or red wine

 l large or 2 medium bay leaves

carrots,fennel,onions, bay leaves

carrots,fennel,onions, bay leaves

cabbage still life

cabbage still life

1 (1# 12 oz.) can of whole*** or diced tomatoes**

2 Tablsp. tomato paste**

5 cups chicken stock**

1 tsp. dried basil

1 tsp. dried rosemary


1 bunch of cleaned swiss chard (approx. 2-3 cups)- chopped into l inch chunks

3 cups of cabbage- chopped into 1 inch chunks

2-3 zucchini – cut ½ inch thick

1 (15oz.) can of white beans

soups done !

soups done !

Optional: Any chunk of dried out parmesan cheese to add to stock or grated parmesan cheese to sprinkle over completed soup.

This will make about 10+ cups of soup so use a large stock pot that will hold about a gallon of soup.

Saute’ pancetta in oil over low heat for 3-4 minutes. 

  • Add  ingredients from onions through peppers and saute’ for 5 minutes.
  • Add wine and bay leaves. Toss together, cover and simmer for  5 minutes.
  • Add tomatoes with juices from can, paste, stock, basil and rosemary.
  • Bring to boil and simmer for 15 minutes
  • .
  • Add swiss chard, cabbage,zucchini and beans and bring to boil.
  • Simmer for 25-30 minutes until cabbage is soft and limp.
  • Taste and add as much salt as you like. 
  •  *You can substitute any salty bacon, prosciutto ends, leftover ham for this.

    ** Try to keep the proportion of tomato products and stock the same as recipe for balance but tweek it to your taste if you like.

     *** If you use whole canned tomatoes, squish them before you put them in the pot.

    I like to add dried mini- tortellini or dried mini- ravioli to the finished soup. After soup is done, bring to a boil again and add about 1-2 cups of dried pasta and boil until the pasta is al dente. Got this idea from the Silver Palate cookbook.


    Love life every day, stay warm and good health to you all!








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    A whole lotta mushrooms !Soup's on !A fully loaded bowl of soup Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s a holiday that focuses on counting our blessings. I’m blessed with having abundance in my life. I have a large loving family consisting of a wonderful husband,a son,daughter,
    grandson,mother,five siblings with their children and grandchildren. Thanksgiving dinner with my family usually means having 30-35 family members taking up every conceivable seating space in the house. Everyone contributes to this meal and there’s always enough leftovers to take home. It’s a heart-filling sight to experience and I revel in this pleasure.

    Riding on this high and wanting to share the abundance of this dinner with my friends, I started a tradition years ago. I asked folks to bring over leftovers from their Thanksgiving dinner to share with each other. Over the years it morphed into a Day After Thanksgiving hike and supper.

    Every year we start with a leisurely walk to work off all the yummy food eaten the night before. Since we’re blessed with an abundance of forests, wetlands and seashore to choose from, it’s a different place each year. There’s lots of time to talk, laugh,bird watch and take in nature. Cheese, bread, sandwiches or whatever anyone wants to bring is shared on the trail.

    Afterwards we gather at my home for a supper consisting of whatever folks have brought and a turkey mushroom barley soup I’ve made from the leftover turkey carcass,stock, meat scraps and veggies. Someone starts up a fire while others set out the food that’s shown up. When the rich earthy aroma of the soup floods the kitchen I call out,”Soups on”. We gather together and someone makes a toast to the soup and our shared gratitude for the abundance in our lives. Life is good.

    Turkey mushroom barley soup

    Enriched turkey broth

    1 turkey carcass
    leftover turkey stock or chicken stock to cover carcass
    2 bay leaves
    1 medium onion-quartered
    2 carrots-cut into chunks
    2 stalks of celery- cut into rough chunks
    1 medium parsnip- cut into chunks
    2 Tablsp. butter
    1 medium onion-diced
    3 carrots- cut into 1/2 inch rounds
    2 stalks celery- cut into 1/2 inch pieces
    3 parsnips- cut into 1/2 inch rounds
    3/4 pound of cremini mushrooms- 1/2 inch pieces
    1 tsp. black pepper
    1 tsp. dried or fresh thyme
    1 cup barley*
    1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
    1 cup + leftover turkey meat
    Optional: 2-3 Tablsp.sherry
    1. Strip meat from turkey carcass. Cut into 1 inch pieces and
    set aside.
    2. Put carcass in large stock pot and cover with broth to almost
    cover turkey. Add bay leaves with chunked carrots,celery and
    parsnip. Wash and break stems off mushrooms and add to pot.
    Save the caps for later.
    3. Cover pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes.
    4. Strain turkey and vegetables and discard. Save the broth for soup.
    5. Cut mushroom caps into chunks, dice remaining onion, carrots,
    celery stalks and parsnip. Saute vegetables in butter until soft.
    Add thyme and black pepper.
    6. Add the turkey broth and bring to boil. Simmer for 25 minutes.
    7. Turn heat up to a gentle boil and slowly add barley. Stir and
    simmer soup for 30-40 minutes until the barley is soft. Add
    parsley and turkey meat. Taste and adjust with salt and more
    pepper as needed.
    8. Add sherry to taste and simmer for 5 minutes.

    * You can increase barley to 1 1/2 cups if you want the soup to be
    dense with barley.

    Yield: Approximately 30-(2 cup)servings

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