Patrick grew up in Manchester NH and remembers riding his bike down to Tambini’s Italian restaurant where he would pick up minestrone soup in a cardboard take out cylinder to take home for the family dinner.
Tambini’s is long gone but Pat’s memory of that soup is still very fresh. He has never forgotten the taste of that soup and is always searching for it once more. He doesn’t cook so he tries the minestrone soup at every Italian restaurant we eat at, every where we go, just in case.
For years now, every winter, I take another couple of stabs at minestrone soup, using different recipes and variations. Having actually never tasted Tambini’s minestrone, I have only his memory of it and comments to go on…. “More garlic, less tomato, what’s this green stuff?, it’s almost…”
Each try gets me a little closer. This recipe, a result of years of tweaking, is the closest yet:
Ditalini in the Jar
Nearly Tambini’s Minestrone Soup
3 quarts beef and/or chicken broth
2 cups dry red or white wine
1 large onion diced
6 stalks celery with leaves, sliced thin
4 carrots sliced thin 2 Tbsp dried basil
2 Tsp. dried oregano
1 Tsp. each; dried crushed rosemary and thyme.
In a large, heavy stainless steel kettle, boil the broth and wine on high heat and add the next 6 ingredients. When the veggies begin to get tender, turn heat to medium high and add:
½ medium head green cabbage, shredded
In a large saute pan, cook together:
2 pounds of ground beef and/or ground Sweet Italian sausage
10 cloves garlic, diced
Add a bit of broth or wine if mixture sticks to pan while cooking. When done, set pan aside.
Twenty minutes after adding cabbage to the soup stock, add:
2 large potatoes, diced into ½ inch pieces
1 cup Ditalini or other pasta
3 small zucchini sliced about ½ thick
Stir frequently to prevent burning. When potatoes are done, turn heat to medium low and stir in:
1 28 oz. large can diced tomatoes
1 16 oz can white kidney or cannelloni beans
1 16 oz. can Italian flat green beans
1 cup tomato sauce
Cooked meat and garlic mixture
Reduce heat to medium low and simmer together for one hour. Just before serving, blend in:
I-2 cups shaved or shredded fresh Parmesan or Romano cheese, or use cheese as garnish.
Serve hot with Italian Bread, we like whole wheat or whole grain, with an herb and olive oil dip.
Some of the more elusive ingredients and proportions seem to be; zucchini, Parmesan cheese and cabbage. Feel free to play with the components. At this point, I think I’ve worked a lot harder on this recipe than Tambini’s ever did! They have certainly given me a long-term soup mission. The search continues!