I used to love my Italian grandmother's homemade minestrone. She was very particular about ingredients and where she bought them. Since I cook for only my husband and myself, I have simplified her recipe and cut down on the amounts. If I do say so myself, it's almost as good as Nonna Teresa's.
Meet the Cook: There were 11 children in my family when I was growing up, and my husband and I have seven grown children (and now eight grandchildren). Need less to say, I have been cooking ever since I could handle a spoon. People love this soup's flavor and creamy cheese consistency. I've given the recipe to friends, who've varied it a little. One substituted summer squash and zucchini for the rutabaga. She said it tasted just great that way, too.
-Helen Riesterer, Kiel, Wisconsin
When I was a little girl, I helped my parents work the fields of their small farm. Lunchtime was always a treat when Mother picked fresh vegetables from her garden and simmered them in her big soup pot. Nowadays, I grow most of those vegetables in my own garden. Not only is gardening enjoyable, it is an inexpensive way to make a delicious soup. —Ethel Ledbetter, Canton, North Carolina
From Derry, Pennsylvania, Nancy Allman shares this hearty autumn soup featuring smoked sausage. "It's perfect for hurried cooks," Nancy writes. "My mother made it when we had an abundance of cabbage from our garden."
A friend brought samples of this recipe to a soup-tasting class sponsored by our extension homemakers club. It was a great hit with my family. The mix of sausage, apples and vegetables makes a different and flavorful combination.