Saturday, 8 January 2011


"The worth of a thing is best known by the want of it"  J Ray, English Proverbs, 1670
Post Christmas, I'm craving simple, nourishing, veggie dishes.  Having bought celery for the expressed purpose of making a Minestrone soup, I first turn to Elizabeth David's Italian Food (1954).  She gives five different recipes for Minestrone using various kidney beans, marrows, leeks, and gammon.  They are all quite different and I seem to be missing key ingredients in any of them.  By now, my 25 month old son is keen to "help Mummy" so we quickly pull out the excellent Prue Leith's Cookery Bible (1991).  It has a single recipe for the soup and the ingredient list seem to almost match what is now gathering on my kitchen table - haricot beans, garlic, onion, carrots, celery, potato, vegetable stock, basil, parsley and olive oil.  I don't have tomato puree so substitute some of the vegetable stock for tinned tomatoes (seems to work).  I'm a little saddened to then leave out the fresh tomatoes*.  We don't have any white cabbage either.   
My son takes great delight in stirring the soup at various stages, picking and washing fresh bay leaves, pouring, draining (and tasting) the haricot, grating Parmesan and his favourite; breaking up spaghetti and mixing it with small macaroni.  He is enjoying himself so much that when the soup is simmering, he agrees to set the table (rather haphazardly) for lunch.  *We eat the fresh  tomatoes as a salad dressed in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  He eats the whole meal and asks for seconds.  The next day, at the mention of lunch he asks, for "my zoupe, my zoupe". 

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