Sunday, January 10, 2010

Mangia Zuppa!

You are going to laugh. I'm frrrrrrrrrreeeeezing. And unlike most of the country suffering with deep frosts and onslaughts of snow, I live in Southern California. Our "freezing" falls around the 68 degree mark. It's extra embarrassing because I spent 25 years living in the Northeast. When I moved out, I mocked my fellow Californians who complained about this kind of weather -- 68 in winter?! Heaven.

Fifteen years later and now my blood runs thinner.  I am used to (and prefer) temps in the 70s and 80s.  But one thing has remained the same over the years: When it's colllllllld, I want soup!

I am a huge lover of all sorts of soup-- from Asian varieties to Jewish Pencillin (aka chicken soup) to rich and decadent cream soups to my beloved French Onion Soup smothered in melted cheese.... But we've entered the New Year, so I need to be "good." My solution: Minestrone!

I first sampled minestrone as a young child (about 2 years old) at my parents' (and later my) fav Italian ristorante. The rich tomato broth, the filling veggies, noodles, and parm cheese made me happy-happy! And on tonight's chilly winter night, it totally hit the spot, warming me up and making happy-happy!

Heidi's MammaMiaMangia Minestrone


- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- small onion, chopped
- 1 bunch of swiss chard, roughly chopped (I used red chard for the color effect but any kind is fine)
- 1 medium carrot, thickly sliced
- 1 zucchini, large chopped
- 2 stalks celery, thickly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 32 ounces of vegetable stock (note: stock is preferable to broth)
- 3 tablespoons of tomato paste
- 1 (14)-ounce cannelini beans, drained
- 1/2 can of chickpeas, drained
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 8 oz fresh cheese tortellini
- small piece of parmesan cheese rind (optional but highly recommended)
- freshly grated parmesan cheese, to taste

* This recipe can easily be modified to your own tastes. For instance, you can increase/decrease veggies and beans per your preference. Tortellinis can be substituted with small pasta tubes (which are traditional for this dish), another shape of pasta, another type of tortellini, or skipped altogether. 


In a large, deep pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat and add onions.  Saute until they are tender and have a slight golden hue.  Add chard and saute for about two minutes, until chard has wilted.  Push chard and onions off to the edges of the pan.

To the center of the pan, add zucchini, carrot and celery and cook for another 5 to minutes, or until the veggies have softened.  Stir with onion-chard mixture.

Add garlic, saute for about 1 minute. Add tomato paste, stock and beans. Stir to combine and then add spices and parmesan cheese rind.  Stir and taste for seasoning.  Lower the heat to medium low and let simmer for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare tortellini as directed (to al dente).  Drain and set aside.

After soup has simmered, add pasta and lovingly ladle into bowls.  Generously shower parmesan cheese on top.

(Alternative and decadent cheese option:  Place mozarella cheese on top of soup in the bowl and broil until the cheese is bubbly and brown and awesome!)


  1. 68 degrees is perfect weather! But I guess you have to have soup some time of the year so...

  2. Hi, Jessica! I know... we are *so* spoiled out here. But, when you are used to warmer weather, the temp dip is noticeable. And that's when warm soup really hits the spot! :)