Month of January: “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking” Recipe: Minestrone alla Romagnola

“Our doubts are traitors.” William Shakespeare & “Doubts can only be removed by action.” Goethe

Last night as the meat broth was chilling and forming a rising layer of fat, I learned something vitally important about my relationship with my mother. I realized that in order for her to keep me perpetually emotionally close (out of her own fear of being alone from her own childhood abandonment), she baked me, her daughter, with self doubt….for as far back as I can remember. How my brain responded was with confusion, anger, anxiety and panic. Empathy for her early injuries kept me always in the ring. Her pain somehow seemed greater and more tragic than mine, her losses unthinkable. However, for whatever reason, Abby’s death prompted me to finally start severing that psychic cord between us. I needed to permanently distance myself from my parents’ stories and look deeply at my own and mine alone. It’s not just feeling the feels but recognizing and labeling the dance between us so that I can unlearn the learned reactions into a response that is true for me. It really is like walking on a razor’s edge. To understand my conditioned inner dialogue has been to learn how to straddle this complexity along with the disconcerting feeling of ambiguity. I can step away, be myself, and yet still love her.

KA-BOOM!!!! This is a big moment.

Ingredients: 1 pound zucchini, 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, 3 tablespoons butter, 1 cup onion thinly sliced, 1 cup diced carrots, 1 cup diced celery, 2 cups peeled and diced potatoes, 1/4 pound diced fresh green beans, 3 cups shredded cabbage, 1.5 cups cannellini beans, 6 cups homemade meat broth, 2/3 cup canned Italian plum tomatoes with juice, salt, 1/3 cup parmigianno-reggiano cheese

Soak the zucchini in a large bowl of cold water for at least 20 minutes and then rinse clean. Apparently zucchini is thin skinned and soil easily penetrates it. Trim both ends and dice. Put butter and oil in a large stockpot and heat to medium low. Cook onion until pale gold. Add the diced carrots and cook 2 minutes. Then add celery and cook for another 2 minutes. Add potatoes and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the green beans, cook 2 minutes, add the zucchini, cook for a few minutes, add shredded cabbage and cook for 5-6 minutes. Add the broth and tomatoes and salt and cook at a slow steady simmer for 2.5 hours. Lastly add cannellini beans and cook for another half hour. The soup should be fairly dense, never thin and watery. When the soup is done, just before you turn off the heat, swirl in grated cheese and taste for salt.

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