Neapolitans serve special traditional dishes for different holidays. On Easter Sunday, when I was a child, this Minestra di Pasqua was always present on my Nunie's Easter Sunday dinner.This was the beginning of our Easter meal served before the pasta dish.
I have the fondest of memories of this day as my Nunie and Aunty Ella prepared so many traditional delights for all to savor. Some of the important parts of the meal included Crescia or Easter bread, Minestra di Pasqua.. Easter soup and Pastiera di Ricotta.. Easter pie. I can easily recall the large stock pot in the long pantry and stacks of soup bowls readied for ladeling, the sauce pot simmering away while the women busily prepared the antipasto trays. Sometimes they would even let the children grate the fresh cheese to be served. The aroma that permeated through her home was absolutely wonderful and oddly enough the essence of Easter lilies mingled in around everything else.
These time treasured traditions are held close to the hearts of so many Italian families.. signifying the renewal of faith and spirit to all.
In years gone by, the minestra was always made with a prosciutto bone. Today, prosciutto bones are hard to come by as this Italian ham is now processed with the bone removed.
Chicken stock - make a day ahead
* 5 lb whole chicken
*1 celery stalk-chopped, 2 carrots-chopped 1 med onion-chopped } add to stock
8 cups water - enough to cover your chicken
5 lb escarole, chopped
1 large cabbage head, chopped
1 lb prosciutto
3 pigs feet ( have your butcher crack them in half)
3 ham hocks
2 qt water
3 cups cooked chicken, shredded
4 cups pre-made chicken stock
1/2 cup tiny pasta soup mac
1/2 lb salt pork, minced
2 clove garlic, crushed
1 TBLS fresh parsley, chopped
sea salt, ground pepper to taste
*optional - very small meatballs may be added to the soup
Make a chicken stock in a large pot adding celery, onion and a few diced carrots. Slow cook the chicken until it begins to pull away from the bones. Once done, remove the chicken from bones and set aside. Allow your stock to cool overnight.
Place the salt pork in a large stock pot with the garlic and parsley. Brown lightly and add 2 quarts of water and 4 cups of chicken stock. Add the pigs feet, prosciutto and ham hocks, bringing it to a boil. Place a loose lid on the pot and simmer until meats are tender.
Remove the tough outer leaves of the cabbage and escarole, separating all the leaves and rinsing thoroughly and chop all. Parboil the greens in 4 qts of water for 5 minutes and drain. Add the parboiled greens to the stockpot containing the meats, along with the cooked chicken and seasonings & pasta. I sometimes like to add very small meatballs to my minestra. Simmer for an hour and serve with plenty of grated parmesan cheese and a nice bottle of red wine. Enjoy!
A good friend sent me this video clip about what it was like growing up Italian in America. It brought back floods of memories & warm remembrances of days gone by.