Grandpa Jack’s Minestrone

I think I was still in college when I first had this soup, and I knew then that I needed the recipe. (By the way, every now and then, I’m a little aghast that I haven’t shared this with you yet; it’s one of my all-time favorites, and it’s also now a great way to get my kids to happily eat a load of veggies.)

My grandparents called this “Upstate Minestrone,” because they got the recipe from some friends on the East Coast who would prepare a pot of this soup to simmer while they took an afternoon drive “upstate.” I prefer to just call it “Grandpa Jack’s Minestrone” because it reminds me of my talented grandfather who passed away about 5 months after Tito was born.

Now that #3 is due to arrive any day now (any minute would be nice), I found some zucchini and cabbage on sale and chopped them up in soup-ready bags to keep in the freezer. It’s not totally a freezer meal, but having the veggies (I froze the carrots with them, too) ready to go will make for a pretty quick and really healthy meal in the first few months of newborn haze.

Feel free to add more veggies to this soup if that suits you — my mom always likes to add red bell peppers to hers. You can also add other types of beans, use spicy Italian sausage instead of sweet Italian sausage, and top the finished soup with pesto and/or parmesan cheese. Or, it’s great “as is.” However you choose to ladle it up, I hope you’ll give it a try and enjoy it as much as we do.

Grandpa Jack’s Minestrone

1 lb sweet Italian sausage
1 T cooking oil
1 c diced onion
1 clove minced garlic
2 small zucchini, sliced
1 c sliced carrots
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cans beef broth (or ~3 cups water + 3 t beef Better than Bouillon)
1 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1 can great northern beans
2 c finely shredded cabbage
chopped fresh parsley
1 t basil

Slice sausage crosswise about 1/2″ thick; brown with oil in a deep saucepan. Add onion, garlic, carrots, and basil. Cook for 5 minutes, until veggies begin to soften. Add zucchini, tomatoes with liquid, beef froth, cabbage, salt and pepper. Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour. Add beans, cook another 20 minutes. Garnish with parsley if desired. Soup is even better the second day!