Thursday, January 6, 2011

Throat-Comfort Tea

While culling through a pile of paper scraps during a sorting frenzy today, I can across my recipe for a tea that I share with scratch-throated friends. If you're experiencing a sore throat, give this a try. I hope it's healing and comforting, speeding your recovery. Be well!


  1. Ginger, coarsely chopped*
  2. Zest of 1 Lemon
  3. 3 tablespoons of fresh-squeezed Lemon Juice
  4. 1/4 cup of fresh Mint Leaves, chopped
  5. 2-3 teaspoons of Honey
  6. 1 teaspoon Echinacea - Goldenseal Extract
  • *Coarsely chop a four to six-inch slice of fresh ginger, depending on how strong you want the flavor of ginger.
  • In a sauce pan, combine the chopped ginger, lemon zest and chopped mint with 6 cups of water. Cover and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes, with lid slightly ajar, until the tea has reduced to about 5 cups.
  • Pour the tea through a fine strainer over a heat-proof bowl.
  • Pour the tea from the bowl back into the sauce pan, add the fresh lemon juice and honey to taste.
  • Simmer for 2 minutes. Place 1/4 teaspoon of the echinacea-goldenseal extract into each cup of tea. Pour tea and serve.

Monday, January 3, 2011

My All-Time Favorite Minestrone Soup

Yesterday, my girlfriend Loma mentioned that she wanted to get back in the kitchen and cook up some healthy meals following the holidays. Sounds good to me! The topic of homemade soups came up and I offered to share my all-time family favorite minestrone soup recipe with her. I started making homemade minestrone back in 1978 using the recipe on page 109 in the Spices of the World Cookbook by McCormick. I hope you are fortunate enough to find a copy of this out-of-print cookbook. I guarantee you’ll be glad you have it on your culinary book shelf!

Photo from "Everything Minestrone Soup"


1 cup dried marrow beans or garbanzo beans or lima beans

7 cups water

1/cup chopped instant onion

1 tablespoon Parsley Flakes

3 tablespoons Celery Flakes

1/8 teaspoon Instant Minced Garlic

2 tablespoons Bell Pepper Flakes

¼ cup olive oil

¼ teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper

½ pound fresh spinach

2 teaspoons Beef Flavor Base, or vegetable base

1/8 teaspoon Rubbed Sage

¼ teaspoon Italian Seasoning, or make your own blend

1 teaspoon Ground Thyme

2 teaspoons Salt

¼ teaspoon Course Ground Pepper

1 cup diced potatoes

2 cups tomatoes

1 cup chopped cabbage

1 small zucchini, thinly sliced

1 cup uncooked elbow macaroni

Grated Parmesan Cheese


  1. Soak beans overnight in water to cover. Drain.
  2. Add the 7 cups of water. Cover and simmer for 3 hours or until tender.
  3. Sauté the onions, garlic, parsley, celery and pepper flakes in oil until well-coated and hot, but don’t allow them to brown.
  4. Add mixture to the beans with the remaining seasonings, fresh vegetables and uncooked macaroni.
  5. Cook over low heat for 30 minutes or longer.
  6. If the soup is too thick for your liking, add water to thin to the consistency you prefer.
  7. Top the minestrone soup with grated Parmesan cheese.

Makes about 3 quarts.


  • This cookbook was designed to promote the sales of McCormick spices, so if you decide to use all fresh ingredients including the beans, onions and herbs, as I typically do, you will want to decrease the amount of water.
  • To make this a gluten-free soup, simple add gluten-free macaroni (quinoa or brown rice).
  • If you want to learn more about minestrone and try other variations, click here.