The Big Winter Needs The Big Soup

Gratuitous shot of my son playing in the snow. He's a fan of The Big Winter.

What’s The Big Story? The Big Winter, at least where I live. In Mommyland, it’s already referred to as The Big Mess, on par with the stuck on gunk deep in the crevices of a baby’s high chair.

One of my friends is relying on her “Mommy’s little helpers”–anti-anxiety meds–to stay sane during our 4:30 p.m. sunsets. Another is resorting to her new label maker for indoor fun. Some have become Purell-addicts held hostage in their germ-infested homes with their sick kids–who catch colds all at once for intense misery or successively for prolonged misery. Another on the brink of divorce swears all of this forced togetherness will make her file as soon as she can get out of her driveway.

Like I said, it’s really bad out there.

The only home remedy I can think of for The Big Winter is The Big Soup. Minestrone means The Big Soup in Italian, and my favorite recipe delivers warmth, comfort, and a full belly in one bowl.

Be forewarned–If you’re desperately seeking some alone time, don’t make The Big Soup. Its savory broth emits a fragrant aroma that will lure anyone within walking distance to the kitchen. You might want to try making some liver and onions to help your cause.

Conversely, if you’re looking for a reminder of why you chose to live with your family in the first place, The Big Soup is your Mommy Dish of choice on a snowy day. Serve it up with some crusty bread and Big Smiles are guaranteed.



The Big Soup

(Bonus: it’s small on calories!)

  • 8 cups vegetable broth (two box containers)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups of green  beans (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 28-ounce diced tomatoes
  • 1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 15-ounce can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup of ditali pasta (cooked al dente and drained–make separately)
  • 1/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese, or more to taste
  • 3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste


Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes, and then add the garlic. Add the celery and carrot and cook until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the green beans, dried oregano and basil, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste; cook 3 more minutes.

Add the diced and crushed tomatoes and the vegetable broth to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in the kidney beans and cook for about 20 minutes. Add in pasta. Season with salt. Ladle into bowls and top generously with parmesan cheese.

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