I probably have over 30 cookbooks. The previous owners of our house must have had some insight that the subsequent owners (us) were going to need a lot of room for cookbooks and when they redid the kitchen, they put a 3 shelve corner piece under the counter in lieu of a larger cabinet. This is where I store my most prized cookbooks, the others are socked away in the cabinet above my fridge. A bunch of these cookbooks were gifts from my mom or from friends, others were ones I sought out myself. I'll always remember when I was a kid how I would love going through my mom's Frugal Gourmet cookbook, we often watched him on PBS and he was as much a part of my childhood as Rainbow Brite and New Kids on the Block. The name of the cookbook was The Frugal Gourmet On Our Immigrant Ancestors. I don't actually remember my mom ever making anything out of this cookbook and a few years ago I was lucky enough to inherit it during one of my mom's kitchen purges. I have to admit that I haven't made anything out of it yet either, but one day I will. My mom knew how much I loved this cookbook so she made sure to put in on the side for me without question. This is one of the cookbooks I proudly display on that shelf, ever-reminding me of my childhood.
I make a a meal plan along with my grocery list so I have an idea of what I will be making in the next week or two. I find that if I go shopping without a list I have a massive brain fart in the grocery store or commissary. Needless to say, on these shopping expeditions I never get anything that I need and everything I want. Often when I am meal planning I will turn to these cookbooks for inspiration on what to make. I get bored making the same things over and over again and this helps keep my weekly menus fresh. One of the cookbooks, I turned to frequently is the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook.
This cookbook, cited to be "American's #1 Cookbook Since 1930", has an indispensable place in my kitchen. My mom still has a copy from the '70's that she often refers to and when we moved to Georgia one of the first things I bought was this cookbook. I often refer to it for baking recipes, meat cooking times and easy meal ideas. The recipe I am going to share now is from this cookbook, though altered for my tastes. This is one thing I learned about recipes (with the exception of baking, since that is more of a science), is that you can add or take away ingredients depending on your tastes I often look at recipes as a jumping point for what I want to cook and I often tinker with them to make them more my own. This is exactly what I did with this minestrone recipe:
Easy Minestrone (based on Minestrone from BH&G New Cookbook, pg 569)
3 cans of beef broth (I use low sodium)
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 can of kidney beans
1 can of garbanzo beans
I can of italian seasoned diced tomatoes
1 1/2 C of V8 vegetable juice
1 can of italian seasoned tomato paste
2 tsp of sugar
1 tsp italian seasoning
1 1/2 C frozen soup veggies (Or you can use fresh such as string beans, carrots, etc, it's up to you. Just remember to adjust cook time)
2 C - 1 lb of pasta like ditalini or elbow. ( we made a whole box of ditalini because I love macaroni)
- In a large stockpot combine all ingredients except frozen/fresh veggies and macaroni.
- In a separate pot boil water for desired macaroni according to package directions, once boiling salt water and cook macaroni til al dente.
- Once the soup starts boiling add frozen/fresh veggies. Drop temperature down to a simmer and simmer for about 10 minutes. If using fresh veggies simmer til veggies are tender but not mushy. Add cooked macaroni. Top with grated cheese if desired (I use romano or pecorino romano but whatever you like to use is just fine.
I just wanted to add this note, if you make a whole box of pasta like we did, the pasta will absorb alot of the soup's liquid over night (see picture below). I don't mind the minestrone being this consistency since I am a big fan of pasta fagioli. But if you want your minestrone to stay soup-like then use less macaroni.