Marcella Hazan, the “Julia Child” of Italian cooking, died last weekend at the age of 89. Her cookbooks, based on a lifetime of cooking for her family, became famous because they presented simple food that was vastly superior to the over-sauced, over-rich, overdone Italianate dishes that sprang up in the U.S. after World War II.
Case in point: when I was a kid my mother served us chicken tetrazzini made with — what else — Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup. I’m certain that she got the recipe from the Ladies’ Home Journal, the domestic bible of 1950’s housewives. Chicken tetrazzini was indeed exotic for my mother, a first-generation American whose parents emigrated from Switzerland, and she surely thought that she was cooking real Italian fare.
Marcella would have scoffed, and from reading about her I think she would have let loose with a few choice cuss words with regards to the Campbell’s soup.
Although many people may not own any of her six cookbooks, our cooking has certainly changed because of her. This minestrone soup, adapted from her recipe, is an example of her approach to cooking. Marcella insisted on using only fresh ingredients, nothing packaged, nothing processed. She wasn’t a health geek — heaven forbid — but rather a connoisseur of real, albeit simple, food.
I made it in my slow cooker, which Marcella may have cussed about also, but its essence is true to her spirit. You can make this on your stovetop in a large soup pot instead. Marcella liked to simmer her soup for about three hours, much like the slow cooker’s timing.
Julia Child, Marcella Hazan, thank you both for what you taught us, and rest in peace.
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 carrots, cut into large dice
2 stalks celery, cut into large dice
2 medium potatoes, cut into large dice (you don’t have to peel Yukon Gold)
1/4 lb. green beans, cut into 1″ lengths
1 lb. zucchini, cut into large dice (about 2 or 3)
3 cups Savoy or regular cabbage, shredded (about 1/2 small head)
6 cups low-sodium chicken or beef broth
1 15-oz. can diced Italian tomatoes
1 15-oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
Salt and pepper
Fresh basil, cut into julienne strips
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Heat oil on high in a slow cooker and sauté onion until translucent. Add remaining ingredients except beans, cover and cook on high for 3 hours. Add cannellini beans and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in fresh basil and serve with grated Parmesan cheese.
WW SmartPoints per serving: 3