It's not quite gotten back to normal around here since Frans' been gone. Swept up in all the stuff that comes after the loss of a parent, mainly taking care of my father Al, I find myself suddenly the mother of a senior citizen teenager. He calls me to tell me what friends he's hanging out with. He tends to roll with the Sans-a-Belt Crowd. They're the opposite of teenagers with their pants down around their ass crack. These guys wear them up around their ear lobes.
Lately he's been going to card games and bingo, lunches and dinners at the Country Club. Sometimes Alan and I have been his double date. Ancient cocktails are ordered, we always sit in "their" booth, and a toast to Fran is always drunk. Keeping to routine is important to him. My mom held a tight rein on what went on around there and did absolutely everything for him, so I've been getting questions about how much water and what kind to put in the iron, and colors versus white wash, and how the vacuum works, first semester at college type of questions.
As Al is discovering the mysteries of laundry, we've been getting back to work on the TV Pilot we were doing. We had just gotten our re-write notes when my mom took her final turn for the worse, and everything was put on hold. So at last we're back at earning our living. There are also myriad other things that haven't been done around here, stuff like going to the dentist, getting check-ups, changing the oil on the car. The usual. We're catching up on that too. Then of course we had house guests, then Momo Madness Oscar weekend, and wouldn't you know it, Alan came down with a lousy Winter Cold.
People always complain about Summer colds but Winter colds can be just as bad. The only good thing about them is at least one doesn't have to tell Someone Who Should Know Better to put a coat on once in a while. Of course anyone who's sick around here gets whatever they want to eat within reason, and no I'm not opening that box of Girl Scout cookies I was blackmailed into buying. Cookies seem to be where Alan goes first when he has a cold. He informed me that if I would only open the box and just give him one cookie, then I can guard them and make sure he doesn't go cookie crazy. I had to remind him I don't need to see him go all Zero Dark Thirty, The Hunt for Savannah Smiles on me the minute my back is turned.
My answer to what ails one is usually soup. Hot, nourishing and easy to get down, it usually hits the spot, and if done right opens the sinuses reeeeeeal good. I asked Alan what sort of soup he'd like me to make for him. The answer came back, Minestrone. Great answer. I grew up on that soup and there are a million ways to make it. No two Nonnas make it the same. Everyone has their magic tricks for perfect "brodo" with all the clarity of a pure mountain lake. To save time I used boxed chicken broth. Chicken broth is not something usually found in Indian recipes, like even and so I don't usually bother to make and freeze my own. I've found that a good quality organic, low sodium, store bought box works just as well when paired with good fresh ingredients. A friend of mine was telling me this morning that she made minestrone once, and only once because it took nearly all day. This soup can be on the table in about 45 minutes from scratch. You probably have most of the makings already.
Here's What You Need:
1 medium onion finely chopped
1 boiling potato diced
1 rib of celery finely chopped
1 carrot peeled and diced
1 zucchini diced
3 Tbs of olive oil
1/4 cup of uncooked elbow pasta
1 16 oz can of tomatoes with it's juices (I say this because tomatoes are not in season here if using fresh use about 3 medium tomatoes peeled and chopped)
4 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
salt to taste
1/2 cup of torn basil leaves
3 cups of torn fresh spinach leaves
grated parmesan cheese to taste
1 shredded cooked chicken breast if you wish to add this, or 2 slices of pancetta diced
Here's What To Do:
Heat the olive oil in a large pot.
(If you're using pancetta, use this instead of olive oil.
Cook the pancetta and use the drippings to saute the vegetables.)
When the oil is hot, add in the onion,carrot and celery.
Cook these down for about 5 minutes or so until they begin to soften.
Add in the zucchini, potato, tomatoes, and broth.
Bring everything to a boil, then lower the heat to a low medium temp, partially cover the pot and let everything simmer for about 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes add in the pasta, let it cook for another 10 minutes. (If you are adding some shredded, cooked chicken now is the time to do so)
After 10 minutes add in the shredded basil and spinach.
let it cook for another 5 minutes and that's it.
Salt to taste.
Serve it up with a generous sprinkling of grated Parmesan and some crusty bread or crackers.
Coming up next, finally back to Indian recipes. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori