Minestra was traditionally made in our family with a 3 meat broth, (chicken, pepperoni, and little meatballs), lots of escarole or cicoria and potatoes. “Where’s the bone?” you ask. Well, by all means add one to the pot if you should come by one. Aunt Toni says that up the farm where she, our mother Rose, sisters Angela and Vicki and brother Rocco grew up, any bones remaining after making the prosciutt’ and soprasott’ were made were put into large barrel and kept in the cellar layered with salt. She also says that in Tolve, our paese, the bone was handed round the neighborhood!

The chicken broth: In a large soup pot place a whole chicken or a couple of chicken breasts and lots of wings, all but the inner stalks of a bunch of celery washed and roughly cut, 2 onions peeled and cut in half, and a cup of crushed tomato. Then add a whole stick of pepperoni. After taking outer casing off, cut into rough pieces 3/4 inch or so thick and add to pot. Then toss in 7 or 8 whole peppercorns (no carrot). Cover with water. Let simmer a long time..at least 2 hours, more is better. You want a nice concentrated taste.

When done strain out the solids through a large sieve. Set aside to cool. When you can handle the chicken take the meat off the bones and add to broth. Remove pepperoni and add to broth.

Meanwhile you can (optional) make some little meatballs, brown in the oven add to broth. (I don’t do this, never liked them in the soup as a kid!)

Thoroughly rinse 3 heads of escarole or cicoria several times. (It’s sandy.) Chop well and add to broth. After about ½ hour peel and cut up 2 or 3 potatoes and add to broth. You can also add cooked white beans now or in a day or 2.

Now, IF you happen to have a doll made of cheese (see Joanna’s story) and it gets too hard, falls on the ground and breaks…do add it to the minestra for a really old world flavor.

Serve with parmagian’ grated over.