Repost: Helen Jane’s Minestrone Soup Recipe

  • Seasons, seasons.
    This month seems all about revisiting things after taking a break from them.
    Sometimes the things are relationships, sometimes they’re beliefs, and sometimes they’re hobbies.

I’ve taken a big break from my blog, no surprise. Due to a combination of time and social media and a personal turn to the more private, this seems like the worst, most dangerous hobby in the world. Of course, I miss it.

Lately, due to wonky plug-ins and comments, I’ve had to go back in the archives.
I’m surprised at all the energy and adjectives.
I shared so much.
I’m not much like that anymore.

But all those past, bubbly posts remind me that I’ve shared some useful things. We still eat this soup nearly every other week. In fact, we ate it Monday.

Eat this with grilled cheeses and grapes

When I first made this recipe, we had no kids. I had more energy and adjectives. I shared so much.

Things change. Soup remains.

Now, this minestrone soup recipe is the most effective way I have to cram veggies into the girls. I make it on Sunday, we eat it on Monday. We eat it up and ask for seconds, not realizing the cabbage, greens, beans and lycopene doing their healthfuls.

Minestrone Soup is good for your ass and ass.

Helen Jane’s Minestrone Soup Recipe

3 tablespoons olive oil
6 pieces raw bacon, chopped fine
1 large onion, chopped fine
3 stalks celery, chopped fine
3 carrots, peeled, chopped fine
3 cloves garlic
1/2 green cabbage, sliced into thin ribbons
6 leaves swiss chard, stripped from the stems and sliced into thin ribbons
1 32 ounce can of chopped tomatoes
2 quarts chicken broth
1 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 bay leaf
2 cups water
1 16 ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed – we like butter beans
1/4 cup tiny star shaped pasta or 1/3 cup Ditalini pasta.
A block of parmesan cheese and a fine grater

Chop the onion, celery and carrots fine. You want them small, especially if small mouths are consuming. Mince garlic. Slice the cabbage fine. Remove stems from swiss chard and slice fine. Open the can of tomatoes.

Veggies are ready.

Warm olive oil over medium heat in a large dutch oven or soup pot. Add the chopped bacon and stir until the bacon is cooked through and fat has melted down.

Remove the bacon from the oil to drain on paper towels. Add onions, celery, carrots, salt, pepper and bay leaf to the pot.

Stir and cook veggies for 2-3 minutes.
Add garlic, cabbage and kale and stir frequently until mixed through and limp.
Add can of tomatoes, chicken broth and water.

Stir through until everything is mixed. Turn heat to high, bring the soup to a boil and then turn to low and simmer. If I have a random Parmesan cheese rind, this is when I add it. If you have no Parmesan cheese rind, I promise I won’t hold it against you.

After 15 minutes, add the white beans. Cook for another 20 minutes, add the pasta (if you’re using) and cook until the pasta is tender (7-10 minutes, depending on the size). Remove bay leaves, taste and adjust salt and pepper.

Leave the bacon out and swap the chicken broth for vegetable broth and you’re looking a little Vegan around the edges.

Serve with sprinkled reserved bacon (this keeps it crunchy) and a healthy scattering of grated Parmesan cheese.
(Sometimes, when lilygilding, I drizzle olive oil over the whole thing.)

We serve this soup with grilled cheese or panini and a chopped antipasti salad. The girls eat it up. Now you can too.


Missing our Pinot

My dog died. Remember when we got her? Seven million blogging years ago?
We put her to sleep on Sunday. It’s Friday now, seven million grieving days later.
We had her for 13 glorious years. And I walked with her nearly every day of that time.

She had the best sense of humor out of any dog I ever met. I see her everywhere.


This week has been for quiet time, reflection and surprise tears.


Friends sent us flowers – what a delightful surprise to be reminded of the community we share.


I think this experience, more than any other, has brought the contrast of Everyone Deals / But What About My Pain? to the front of my heart. Having a beloved pet die is nearly universal, but the pain, the love and the relationship was unique, only to us.

Nora Lea and Pinot

A lot of acceptance happens in that space between universal experiences had in a way unique only to me. We’re all working through that.




Look Inside My Passion Hole

I'm on the moooooooon!

I wanted to write every day last month.
Then I didn’t.

There have been a lot of moments like that in the past year. Got a smidge of the mid-life crisis, suddenly thrown into a panic about what the hell was I even doing.

What was I even doing?

I’ve battled professional ennui for about 2 years, but this was a full-blown seizing up. I couldn’t get projects done, I was always busy with nothing happening. On top of that, my trademark enthusiasm had dried up.  The meatball on top of my spaghetti of inaction was the fear that my career in digital marketing won’t age well. 

I was stuck.

In January, at Alt Summit, I sat down for a creative consultation with Dayle at Number 4 Design Studio. After my verbal wallow, Dayle looked me square in the eye and said, “You are getting old and you don’t have much time.”

It was true. And terrifying.

Dayle gave me a few topics to research, a few projects to complete and a deadline of March 15 to figure it all out. I’m thrilled to say that’s a deadline I met. I spent a lot of time to research my interests to find a clear direction and I’ve uncovered my enthusiasm again.

Did you know that sometimes you have to research your passion? I didn’t. I thought that it just bubbled up from inside my passion hole. Turns out looking into my passion hole hasn’t been too productive. Getting out and interviewing friends and acquaintances about their jobs, lives and hobbies was.

Changing course is scary, especially when family finances in Northern California are such a burden. But the thing that’s surprised me is that having taken the pressure off my job to deliver my life’s passion, I’m a much better worker.

I’ll be sharing some of the steps I took to figure it all out in the hopes that it can help you too. 

(Ha! And now I know better than to promise something every day.)

Secrets of Archetype class

Today I researched my passion


This community college adult education food class was marvelous. They all are.
(Pro-tip for your next wine country trip, pop in a cooking class at our community college.)

Secrets of Archetype class

We learned all about some of Archetype restaurant’s best dishes. I learned about making chicken and gnocchi, tandoori cauliflower and brussels sprouts with chinese mustard sauce and now I feel I can win your reality show.