Fall is upon us. Crisp mornings and cool nights are the beginnings of bunkering down for the approaching winter. A change of weather, different harvest, different foods. Makes me think of an afghan, a good book, a hearty soup and a hunk of Italian bread.
This authentic recipe for Minestrone Soup comes from an old woman who brought this way of cooking over with her from the Old Country. Her generation would be similar to Josie’s grandmother in my novel, Towel Dry and a Good Cry, a recipe that Josie would pass down to the next generation, for sure.
1 cup white navy or pea beans
1 fresh prosciutto bone with meat attached
½ pound pepperoni cut in chunks, or 2 pigs’ feet, drained, rinsed well
7-8 garlic cloves, crushed
1 large Savory cabbage, outer leaves removed, quartered
½ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Dried red pepper flakes for garnish
- Wash the beans well, removing any imperfect ones. Soak overnight.
- Soak the prosciutto bone for 6 to 8 hours in a bowl of water in the refrigerator, changing water often.
- Boil 6 cups of water. Gradually add the beans to the bowling water. Simmer 2 minutes, and remove from heat. Set aside to soak for 1 hour. Then rinse beans and strain.
- Boil the prosciutto bone and the meat of your choice for 20 minutes. Rinse and strain. This will remove any fat residue.
- Put the clean prosciutto bone, your chosen meat, and the prepared beans in a large heavy pot. Cover with cold water to an inch over the bone and beans. Add 3 cloves of garlic. When the water comes to a boil, lower the heat and simmer. When prosciutto meat starts to pull away from the bone (about 30 minutes), shut off the heat. Separate meat from the prosciutto bone and put the meat back in the pot.
- In a separate large pot, cook the cabbage until tender. Do not overcook. Strain, reserving some of the liquid. Put the cabbage in the pot with the beans and prosciutto.
- Fry 4 or 5 cloves of garlic in the ½ cup of olive oil until brown. Add to the cabbage and beans. If the sauce seems too thick, add some of the cabbage broth. Simmer the mixture for 5 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon. Add salt and pepper to taste (be careful with salt, as prosciutto and pepperoni are highly salted).
- Remove the pan from the heat and let rest for at least 2 hours so that all the flavors will be well combined. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
It’s excellent with crusty Italian round bread.
Judy DeLuca’s Latest Novel
Towel Dry and a Good Cry is about a young girl, new to the hairdressing business, that learns all too quick that there is more to standing behind the chair than just cutting hair. A story full of laughs and tears lies and fears with characters you’ll love, hate or will leave your jaw hanging open!
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