The Weekly Kitchen: Mystery Woman’s Minestrone


By ANGELA McRAE, Special to The Weekly

I ended 2022 with four boxes of old handwritten recipes I had acquired at antique stores, and I much prefer browsing them than reading recipes on the internet. But as with my own files, the women who collected these recipes included far more sweets than main dishes and entrees. Still, I just knew there had to be a recipe for what I wanted to make—a soup—hiding in there somewhere between all the cake, cookie, and pie recipes.

“Minestrone,” said one of them. That’s the whole title. Not even a few descriptive words like “Mabel’s Magic Minestrone,” so I was left to imagine which mystery woman once concocted this particular soup.

So what’s the history of minestrone? I wondered. When I typed the word on my computer, I realized I’d accidentally spelled it “ministrone,” sort of a mash-up between “ministry” and “minestrone.” It turns out that my slip-up wasn’t too far off the mark, etymologically speaking.

As a word lover, I can totally geek out on word meanings. When I looked up “minestrone,” I was intrigued to discover that it may be a derivative of the Italian term meaning “that which is served,” which comes from the word “ministrare,” meaning “to serve.” I suppose that’s why the ministers I’ve admired most in life have all had a servant’s heart.

But what is minestrone? It’s basically a heartier version of vegetable soup, often made with beans and pasta or rice. This recipe, I noted, called for lots of vegetables, and I liked the fact that once I finished preparing it, I had plenty of cabbage, celery, and carrots left. We love veggies at my house and will enjoy eating those foods.

Soup is one of my favorite dishes to make in the wintertime, mostly because I enjoy having the leftovers, and this vegetable-packed soup made for an excellent, filling meal. The mystery woman didn’t say to garnish with Parmesan, but there aren’t many foods that can’t be improved by a little cheese. Now I don’t know whether Newnan will see any more of those Arctic temperatures that surprised us the week of Christmas, but if we do, here’s a great minestrone recipe that you’ll be happy to have.


1 pound stew beef, cut into small pieces
2 quarts water
2 cans (10-1/2 ounces) beef bouillon (or broth)
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained
1 (16-ounce) can tomatoes
1 (10-ounce) package frozen green beans
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 small zucchini, diced
1/4 head of cabbage, chopped
1/2 cup uncooked macaroni
Optional: Parmesan cheese for garnish

Combine beef, water, bouillon, salt, and Worcestershire sauce. Simmer on low heat for 2-1/2 hours. Add kidney beans, tomatoes, green beans, onion, carrots, celery, oregano, pepper, and garlic powder and simmer for 25 minutes more. Add zucchini, cabbage, and macaroni and cook on medium-high heat for 15 minutes. Yields 10-12 servings.

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