The Politics of Minestrone

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It has been mentioned and implied to me in passing that perhaps a food blog is not a place for politics. I say food is one of the most political things in the world based on the abundance or lack of,  trade agreements between countries, crops and the ability to farm or not farm,  all affected by conflicts, weather, whims and cultures. Every food we eat or drink is influenced by governments here and abroad. Food is something that many have too much of and many more have too little of. If that is not political I am not sure what is. How do you feel about this?

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The greens in this soup recipe were picked and packaged by workers in Southern California, the canned beans and tomatoes, the Parmigiano came from Italy as well as the word “minestrone” meaning ” a thick vegetable soup with or without pasta”.  The white bowl in my photo was made in Portugal, the pepper grinder from France and the salt pot from a ceramicist in Nashville….oh yeah, the sea salt from England. The quality and safety of each is determined by rules and laws set down by local and federal governments. Trade agreements allow us access to these items.. All directly depend on the politics of where they come from and where they are going to end up. Such is the “politics of minestrone”.

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The rinds of Parmigiano Reggiano add a unique flavor to a pot of minestrone. So don’t toss them when you have grated down to the rind, save for soup.

Hearty, easy and comforting. We can all use a little comfort…no?

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This is an interesting website with lots of interesting videos about food that might make you think about all kinds of food and life in some new ways.

March Minestrone Soup

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Ingredients:

  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped small
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped small
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 large bunch of Swiss Chard, trimmed & rough chopped
  • 1/2 head of Savoy Cabbage, trimmed and chopped
  • 2 large handfuls of fresh baby Spinach leaves
  • One 28oz. can of whole tomatoes with juice
  • 1 quart low-fat chicken broth
  • 2 quarts of water
  • 2 pieces of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese rind
  • 2 cans of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • freshly ground black pepper and sea salt to taste

Directions:

  1. In a stock pot heat olive oil and add chopped onion and celery and saute until softened, about 8-10 minutes.  Stir in smashed garlic and cook another 5 minutes.
  2. To pot add tomatoes with juice, breaking up whole tomatoes as you add them to the pot with your hands. Stir in the chicken broth and water.
  3. Toss in the Parmigiano rind and bring to a simmer.
  4. Add the cut up cabbage and spinach leaves and cook on low for about 30 minutes.
  5. Add chard leaves and beans and cook another 15 minutes on a low simmer.
  6. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper and sea salt. Discard Parmigiano rinds before serving.

Note: This soup is often served with a cooked, small pasta such as mini shells or ditalini. Trying to cut calories wherever I can we just ate as is.

Teresa Blackburn      www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com   http://www.foodonfifth.com

27 thoughts on “The Politics of Minestrone

  1. IN SWITZERLAND THERE WERE SOME VERY POLITICAL MEALS, e.g.:
    By mediation at the Federal Tagsatzung, open war was barely avoided. While the armies were on the field (the march of Kappel between Zürich and Zug) and negotiations were ongoing, the soldiers of the two armies arranged to avoid all mutual provocation. Johannes Salat of Lucerne, who was an eye-witness, records how the men from both camps fraternised, drinking and talking together. Heinrich Bullinger later cast this in terms of the Kappeler Milchsuppe or “milk soup of Kappel”, an anecdotal account of how a meal was shared by the two armies, the side of Zurich providing the bread and the side of Zug the milk. This became a lasting symbol of reconciliation and compromise between confederates.[1]

    1. Wow this is a great story Greta..so interesting. Food can certainly bring folks together like nothing else can. I am so sorry I missed you while you were here. It was a very busy time for me with lots of photo shoots and travel. Thanks so much for sharing this with me and my blog. xxox

  2. perfect commentary, teresa…..there is a reason that meetings take place around ‘the table’…..as greta referenced, food brings people together….being ‘at the table’ creates connection, reconciliation, compromise, and comfort…..it is humanity…..water is life, food is life, politics is life!!!

    1. All so true. In fact today on a photo shoot over the lunch table a group of us had a wonderful conversation about the President. We were a rag tag group of all political beliefs but we did all agree that Trump just needs to stop it…cease to act like a crazy man and give up his twitter account…so over food we found some common ground and all agreed if we did that more over lunch and at home that we would have a better world to live in. Big kiss to you and Johan.

  3. Hear, hear! And might I say that everyone is free to blog or not to blog as they see fit. Perhaps next time someone implies, subtly or not so subtly, what you should include in your blog, you might reply
    “Stay in your own soup (minestrone) bowl!”. Beautiful photos as usual!

    1. Food is so good for many things in life….life itself, conversation and togetherness. It is a wonderful thing indeed but we should not take it for granted as so many do not have our choices. Happy March and thanks for stopping by.

  4. We are citizens of the world and you eloquently painted a very colorful and delicious tribute to our global connection through food Teresa. Your minestrone looks hearty, flavorful and delicious!

    Johanne Lamarche

    >

    1. This was a happy healthy soup that got me thinking about how if not for political sanity I might not be able to make it as I would not have access to such wonderful foods. We are lucky in this country and for that I am grateful. Thanks much Johanne.

    1. Many thanks. I love doing my blog and enjoy making everything beautiful and nice but life is not always like that is it? I realize my favorite blogs and blog stories are the ones that are real and not always showing the “pretty and nice-nice” part of life. Beauty and conflict can co-exist. Happy March.

  5. I agree with my neighbor one county over, Wendell Berry, and Michael Pollan: Eating is both an agricultural and a political act. Write what you want. If somebody doesn’t like it, they can read elsewhere. But then they’d foolishly miss a photo as absolutely divine as that one of the chard and cabbage.

    1. That is what I decided for my own blog, but I also understand if others do not want to take this approach. It’s just something I believe is important to think about in this day and age and is not a new idea in the least. Thanks for your comment and Happy March.

  6. I LOVE putting the heel of the parmesan into the soup (or this case the minestrone) . I knew an old lady in Italy who would put the chopped heels into the soup to cook for hours then take them out and eat them herself. They were her treat! Tell me about your English salt. IT is good to be involved in the political arena. Apathy is not going to help with the present crisis. You made your point beautifully.. c

  7. Lovely minestrone Teresa! My mom would add Parmesan cheese rinds when making her tomato pasta sauces, it adds a whole other depth of flavor…yummy.

    We north of your border are also mystified with the political situation however this is your space in the blogosphere and you should feel free to voice your opinions because they matter and it also means you stood up for something. Bravissima 🙂

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