Last weekend, fueled by the power of resolutions, I was going to take down Christmas, knit a blanket, and create the perfect pasta Fagioli. I was going to sit calmly on Sunday night, with a bowl of the most perfect soup, and look around my perfect house, that went from Christmas craptacular to Wintery Joy. But none of that happened. None of it. And that’s ok. Much like my weekend didn’t go as planned, my soup didn’t either. Last weekend, I got sucked into a series of documentaries about the Rat Pack (Frank & Dean) and my brain can’t seem to move past them.
My mind keeps going back to my Grandfather. Bubba. Big Jim. He has been gone since the mid-1990’s, but the memories stay freshly rooted in the now, especially when it comes to his love of music.
My Grandfather, the son of an Italian immigrant, was a middle-class maestro of bullshit. He told great stories, was highly exacting, and loved music more than anything else. My best memories of Bubba were sitting in the basement with him, listening to records over and over of his favorites. Frank, Dean, Al Martino. Gene Krupa, Peggy Lee, Jo Stafford. Those musicians filled my young head with sound and my grandpa’s narratives of the songs and why he loved them propelled me into a lifelong love affair with music. It was probably odd to have a young child be able to tell the difference between Tommy Dorsey, Glen Miller and Benny Goodman by the drum riffs and whomever was singing at the front of the big band, but it was a tight bond that held us. I remember clearly my grandfather recording songs and providing me insights as to why he loved them on his complex stereo system.
My grandfather loved Sinatra, Detroit Tigers, General Motors, and his family, in no particular order. He filled the small house with songs of his youth, eschewing most modern-day music. He routinely listened to baseball games, providing colorful armchair commentary along with his “friends” the announcer’s Al Kaline and Ernie Harwell. He consistently had a cigarette hanging from his mouth, a Kangol hat on his head and a matching cardigan sweater stretched across his belly. Every day he would go to the drug store to buy fresh cigarettes for my grandmother and him, something chocolate, and whatever tchotchke was at the counter at Andrew Drugs. His routine was a comfort to me, less stringent than what I had at my own house, my mother his only daughter.
I bonded with my grandfather over so many things- a love of musical movies, Detroit Sports, good food from the local Italian restaurant. I remember him teaching me how to pronounce the words from Dean Martin’s “Volare”:
“Volare, oh oh
E contare, oh oh oh oh
Nel blu, dipinto di blu
Felice di stare lassu
E volavo, volavo felice piu in alto del sole ed ancora piu su”
I can’t do a perfect translation of this, but I do remember my grandfather teaching me that it meant “so happy to be here that he could walk on air” and yes, I was always so happy to be there with him, learning, absorbing second-hand smoke and sneaking treats away from my mother’s watchful eyes.
I oftentimes wonder what he was really like, out of the haze of my adoration. Was his love of music as charming to others as it was to me? Was his endless trivia knowledge as cool to his children as it was to me?
Instead of lamenting that my weekend didn’t go quite as planned, I’m so happy to be here, embracing the memories of the past as I prepare for the new week.
As the weekend didn’t go quite as planned, neither did my soup plan for the week- I really truly wanted to make pasta Fagioli as a semi tribute to both Dean Martin and my grandfather, but alas, I could not get my hands on the *right* pasta to use for today’s meal prep. Instead, I’m going to save that recipe for later and instead make a hearty vegetable minestrone- still Italian in nature, and nourishing as well.
In case you are wondering about the origin of Minestrone – It is from Italian minestrone, the augmentative form of minestra, “soup”, or more literally, “that which is served”, from ministrare, “to serve”. So this week, I serve you, Low Fodmap Minestrone. I used the Minestrone recipe from the book Laurels Kitchen as inspiration, but tweaked a bit based on what i had in the kitchen and to make it as low Fodmap as possible.
Low FodMap Minestrone
2-3 tablespoons garlic-infused oil
½ cup chopped leeks
1.5 cups celery
½ cup (8 tablespoons) tomato paste
Total of 2 cups additional chopped vegetables
½ cup each of your choice:
I used carrots & zucchini
Spices: (so here, I just kinda eyeballed it)
- dried oregano
- dried basil
- Dried parsley
- 2 bay leaves
- salt and pepper to taste
16 ounces canned diced tomatoes, with their liquid (ensure no high-FODMAP additives)
4 cups (32 ounces) low-FODMAP vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 cup pasta- use legit whatever makes your heart happy
1 can of black beans (drained and rinsed)
a big ole handful of baby spinach, chopped kale, or chopped collard greens
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2-3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh chopped parsley
Warm 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat
Once the oil is hot, add the celery, leeks, and tomato paste
Cook, stirring often until the celery & leeks have softened, about 7 to 10 minutes
Add the 2 cups of your choice of vegetables, as well as the spices
Cook until fragrant while stirring frequently, about 2 minutes
Pour in the canned diced tomatoes and their juices, broth, and water
Season generously with freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste
Raise heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil, then partially cover the pot with the lid
Reduce heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer
Cook for 15 minutes, then remove the lid and add the pasta, beans, and greens
Continue simmering, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until the pasta is cooked al-dente and the greens are tender