Monday, 13 October 2014

Life is like a Minestrone, a recipe for life

I have borrowed the title of a 1970s  10CC song for my post today.

Life is a minestrone
Topped up with Parmesan cheese

because while I was making a minestrone I started humming it -mini mini mini minestrone.... and it's easy to understand why that line inspired them to write the song. Life is like a minestrone. You put all you can into it. Try and give it as much flavour as possible. Add your own special touches to make it special and unique no matter how ordinary it may seem.
Minestrone is a world famous name for Italian soup, big soup. Putting ona, one,ono, oni on the end of a word makes it big, and adding ina, ine, ino, ini, makes it small. Here are three examples. minestra means soup, macchina means car and parola means word.

Minestra    minestrone    minestrina          soup       big soup      little soup

Macchina  macchinone   macchinina         car         big car        little car

Parola       parolone        parolina              word      big word      little word.

So back to my minestrone and musings on how it can make you think of life.
 Well first of all it is a good idea to follow the seasons, use the appropriate vegetables. In the Spring you can add fresh peas and beans, in Summer ripe tomatoes and greens, in Autumn cubes of pumpkin and in Winter cabbage. Take the best that each season has to offer.
 In Italian they say Ogni frutto ha suo stagione, every fruit has its season.
Secondly you start with a good basic procedure to make sure you can get the best flavour possible, so this could be childhood. Gently cook pieces of bacon or ham in a little olive oil and butter,(unless you are a vegetarian) adding finely chopped onion and celery and garlic if liked. Stir over a low heat until soft.
Next add chopped carrots, any roots vegetables you have on hand. You can cut them into funky shapes to add extra appeal (adolescence)
Stir well and cover with a lid to let the flavours develop.
Add any softer vegetables like courgettes and leeks.
Now add cubed potatoes and  some cold water, bring to the boil and simmer gently, maybe this could be adulthood, most of the ingredients are in and doing all the hard work.
It's time to add some seasoning, salt, pepper, herbs, anything you like to make the soup special and really tasty.
Keep checking the flavours.... just like life,make sure you stir your soup with a smile on your face and love in your heart.
When it is nearly ready add some beans like cannellini or Borlotti and some pasta shapes. In Milan they put rice in minestrone but in the rest of Italy it is more traditional to add pasta shapes.
When you make minestrone you can make a large quantity to share around or freeze until needed but without the pasta or rice.
In Liguria you might find a spoonful of pesto added at the end. Every region has their favourite variation.
When your minestrone is ready and your kitchen is full of appetizing aromas you can decide on your own personal finishing touch. You might have some special olive oil from a friend, or grated cheese, or some truffle oil.
Keep checking that it tastes really good, it's up to you what you make of it....
Actually the minestrone I made today was a bit plain and not all that exciting so it had to be jazzed up with lots of grated cheese and olive oil and a sprinkling of pepper.
I hope this inspires you to make a delicious minestrone for the Autumn evenings.

Buon appetito

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