Abby Mandel's Winter Minestrone

Abby Mandel's Winter Minestrone (Tribune photo)

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