Q: I have the original clipping for Abby Mandel's "Winter minestrone with squash" recipe printed in the Sunday, Nov. 30, 2003, Home & Garden section of the Chicago Tribune. I have made this wonderful soup many times, but I have always been confused by the third ingredient entry:
1 cup each: sliced banana pepper, sliced,
Garlic clove, minced
Because the "sliced" appears twice and a comma follows the second "sliced," and the word "each" indicates more than one ingredient to follow, I have never been able to decide if an ingredient is missing or if I should add a cup of garlic (minced) or only one clove of garlic minced. Can you clarify?
By the way, the same exact "Seven Minute Frosting" recipe ("Missing Mary Meade's 7-minute frosting," TribU, March 20, 2012) appears on page 84 in the 1972 printing of "Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book."
—Mary Craig, North Aurora, Ill.
A: The recipe ran in Mandel's column under the headline: "Let soup be a vegetable cornucopia." Unfortunately, as you noted, there was an error in the recipe. A correction was published in the Chicago Tribune on Dec. 7, 2003, according to our computerized library archives. The corrected recipe, reprinted below, calls for "1 tablespoon minced garlic," not 1 cup.
Before we get to the soup, I want to congratulate you for carefully reading through the recipe, spotting the error, coming up with your own solution and then making the soup. More people need to approach recipes in that spirit. There can always be a mistake — you've got to approach a new recipe with your apron tied and your thinking cap on.
Also, as you've no doubt discovered, there's usually some leeway in recipes. I'm sure the minestrone was fine no matter how many garlic cloves you used. While 1 cup minced garlic does seem a lot, let's remember that long, slow cooking mellows the sharpness and flavor of garlic.
Now to your comment about the frosting recipe. Just as mistakes can happen, so can recipes tend to "wander" about from one cookbook to another — or, these days, one blog or website to another. I have no idea whether the frosting recipe was first published in 1955's "Mary Meade's Kitchen Companion: The Indispensable Guide for the Modern Cook" or in one of the many editions of the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. Let's thank the authors of both for including it.
Back to the winter minestrone and squash soup recipe. Here it is as written, according to the archives. What I note right away is the use of cup measurements for the vegetables. Today, we tend to call for 3 onions or 4 banana peppers to make shopping easier.
Winter minestrone with squash
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 40-45 minutes
Yield: 10 servings
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped sweet onions
1 cup sliced banana pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 bunch cavolo nero, Swiss chard or spinach, stems trimmed, leaves sliced
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes and juices
1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, drained
4 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) chicken broth
2 rinds of Parmesan cheese (1/4 inch thick)
1 cup each: thinly sliced young carrots, diced red bell pepper
2 cups each: diced zucchini; peeled and diced butternut squash
1 teaspoon coarse salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/4 cup sliced basil leaves
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1. Heat oil in large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, banana pepper, garlic and cavolo nero. Cook, stirring often, until vegetables are wilted and soft, about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes and juices, beans, chicken broth, Parmesan rinds, carrots and red pepper. Simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Add zucchini and squash; cook, covered, until squashes are just tender but with texture, about 12 minutes. Taste; adjust seasoning. Can be served immediately or cooled and refrigerated up to 3 days.
2. To serve, heat soup until hot, adding water if mixture is too thick. Remove cheese rind. Taste; adjust seasoning. Serve hot, garnished with basil leaves. Pass Parmesan cheese separately.
Do you have a question about food or drink? E-mail Bill Daley at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Snail mail inquiries should be sent to: Bill Daley, Chicago Tribune, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago 60611. Twitter @billdaley.