Remember that kid in your high school class who you knew was going to be president someday?

(Or, you know.  At least a Congressman.)

(Maybe just that guy whose job it is to help old ladies walk across the street.  Sigh.  He had such potential.  See what happens when you knock up your high school girlfriend at age 22?)


And I don’t mean this in the sleazy politician kinda way.

We’re talking good-natured, charismatic, personable…the kind of guy who could traverse the cafeteria with ease, sit down at any table and not have slushies flung at him from every angle.

Um, yeah so…this soup IS that guy.

It’s not fancy, but doesn’t pretend to be, and it tastes kinda like something your Italian grandma would make (or at least like something my Italian grandma would make).  Not heavily spiced or spicy, it’s just made from good, down-to-earth ingredients…bread and butter kinda stuff.  (Except totally good for you.)  And while it’s not something that you’re necessarily going to start screaming from the rooftops about, you’re going to suddenly find yourself craving it come lunchtime.  And you’ll be so happy when you get home and find it in your fridge.  Yeah.  It’s definitely the kind of thing you want to come home to.

Winter minestrone for president?  Why stop there.  Let’s conquer the world.

This soup recipe was created by Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray, two English chefs who, at their dining establishment called The River Cafe, made Italian food accessible to those in Britain.  In doing so, they influenced the way the nation ate, which is undoubtedly why they made Gourmet Live’s list of Women Game Changers in Food.  For more recipes from these two ladies, check out these blogs:
Mary of One Perfect Bite – Spaghetti al Limone
Val of More Than Burnt Toast – River Café Focaccia col Formaggio
Joanne of Eats Well With Others  – Winter Minestrone
Claudia of A Seasonal Cook in Turkey
Susan of The Spice Garden
Taryn of Have Kitchen, Will Feed  – Boiled Artichoke and Lemon Salad.
Heather of Girlichef  – Lemon Apple Cake
Miranda of Mangoes and Chutney – Spaghetti with Cherry Tomatoes
Jeanette at Jeanette’s Healthy Living – Penne Arrabiatta
April of Abbys Sweets
Katie – Making Michael Pollan Proud
Kathleen Van Bruinisse at Bake Away with Me – Pistachio Cake
Viola – The Life is Good Kitchen
Sue of View from The Great Island – Coffee and Walnut Cake…
Amy of Beloved Green
Barbara of Moveable Feasts – Chocolate Nemesis
Kathleen of Gonna Want Seconds
Martha of Lines from Linderhof
Nancy of Picadillo – Coffee, Walnut and Hazelnut Cake
Mireya – My Healthy Eating Habits – Risotto with Asparagus
Veronica of My Catholic Kitchen – Roasted Potatoes
Claudia Haas – Journey of an Italian Cook – Linguine with Crab and Fennel


And now for the GIVEAWAY!

Have you guys ever checked out Shabby Apple?  They make super tres chic women’s dresses and the most ovary-achingly adorable little girl’s dresses.  Sigh.

Anyways, they were kind enough to offer me to giveaway a dress to you guys!  I chose this fabulous red and white striped dress…just perfect for the upcoming holiday season!  To enter, leave a comment about anything you so desire.  For extra entries, LIKE Shabby Apple on Facebook and leave a second comment telling me that you did so!  The winner will be announced next Friday.


Winter Minestrone
Serves 5, adapted from Good Food Magazine


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium carrots, roughtly chopped
  • 1 large red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 head of garlic, cloves peeled
  • 2 large bunches swiss chard, leaves shredded and stalks roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 28 oz canned diced tomatoes (I used San Marzano)
  • 1/2 head cabbage, heart removed and leaves cut into strips
  • 1 15 oz can cannellini beans
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • freshly grated parmesan, for serving


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and slowly fry the carrots and onion. This will take about 20 minutes but it’s worth it – the slow cooking gives a lovely taste. Add the garlic, chard stalks and half the parsley, and stir to prevent sticking. Stir in the tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes or until reduced.
  2. Add half the Swiss chard leaves, half the cabbage, three-quarters of the beans, and the boiling stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat. Simmer for 30 minutes. Pour in more stock if needed (mine didn’t).
  3. Add the remaining Swiss chard and cabbage and blanch briefly so they remain green and crisp. Season when slightly cooled.
  4. Purée the remaining cannellini beans coarsely in a blender with some of the cooking liquid. Add to the soup – it should be very green. Serve hot with Parmesan.

I am submitting this to Souper Sunday, which is hosted by Deb of Kahakai Kitchen.


You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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124 Responses to The River Cafe’s Winter Minestrone…and a GIVEAWAY!

  1. OohLookBel says:

    This is my kind of soup! I like how it probably tastes even better after a day in the fridge.

  2. Ooooh what a great soup! And a lovely dress! Perhaps I could wear the dress while eating the soup? Haha 🙂 This soup is definitely being bookmarked to make one of these upcoming cold winter nights.

  3. Simply Life says:

    oh you are too funny and I would definitely cast a vote for this soup!

  4. jessie says:

    I absolutely adore anything this swiss chard in it…so this looks fabulous! Thanks for the recipe & the giveaway.

  5. This looks so much better than my minestrone!

  6. Danielle says:

    This looks great -I always look forward to your great stories!

  7. I’m already craving this soup and I haven’t even tasted it yet!

  8. Oh it looks divine! The ultimate bowl of COMFORT! Congrats to the winner!

  9. tsteele999 says:

    My girlfriend would love that dress.

  10. Cara says:

    Since I can’t win my own Shabby Apple giveaway (to be posted soon) I’ll happily enter yours! Would’t that be sweet if we won each other’s? A girl can dream.

  11. I could eat this for a week and not get sick of it. I love how hearty it looks.

  12. That dress is uber cute, Joanne! Love the minestrone even though it is kinda plain Jane. Sometimes I actually crave the monotony of food.. something on the plane side to keep my tastebuds slightly asleep. 😉

  13. What a beautiful winter soup! I can’t wait to try it. The shabby apple frocks are adorable too–Minestrone and modern fashion? Win/win!

  14. Pam says:

    That is my kind of soup. Warm and comforting!

  15. Kari says:

    It’s soup weather here in the midwest. This looks great.

  16. Kari says:

    I already like Shabby Apple on FB

  17. brocstar says:

    Today is my last day of actual class… only 1 final and 2 quarters of organic chemistry left! 🙂

  18. brocstar says:

    And I liked them on facebook.

  19. Shannon says:

    sounds like the kind of soup I would love to have in my hotel room fridge right now…

    and ps. that dress is super cute, good choice 😉

  20. That there is some good ol’ fashioned comfort food. Just the pics warm me up. Beautiful! …and I don’t know what happened to any of those guys from my class (I’m too old…) ;P

  21. Hannah says:

    That soup looks like a prize all by itself! And thank goodness for that- I don’t think I could really pull off wearing such a dress, no matter how cute it looks on the model.

  22. Mary says:

    This looks heavenly! I’m loving cabbage these days and we’ve been adding it to so many of our soups and other dishes. YUM.

    Those dresses? Absolutely fabulous. I love the swimsuit collection too and the aprons… and the 1943 collection made me sigh. wow, I think I have several things to add to my wishlist. Thanks for the link!

  23. Deborah says:

    This minestrone looks amazing – and different than most minestrones that I’ve seen. I could use some right now – it’s freezing outside!

  24. Claudia says:

    As a confirmed soup-o-holic, you know I will be making that soup. The cold has come. Snow has dusted everything. Time for winter minestrone.

  25. Erica says:

    That soup looks amazing! Comforting and delicious!I will add some avocado on top for a Latin twist 🙂

  26. Ann says:

    This soup looks AMAZING! I can’t wait to make it over the weekend…getting chilly here in New England. Thanks for posting and for the great give away!!!

  27. The soup sounds fab! Do you have any recommendations in substituting the kale? I am just not a kale person, but I love everything else.

  28. zahra says:

    Farmer’s market swiss chard and cabbage here I come! Thanks for sharing.

  29. I love Minestrone! Soup on a cold windy day is a favorite.

  30. Jenna says:

    Joanne, fabulous looking soup. And by the way, I’m feeling old because (on the subject of politicians) my husband’s high school classmate just became mayor. MAYOR. What???? Wow.
    Anyway, I checked out the Shabby Apple and I’m lovin’ it. I obviously need to wear that red striped dress for our New Years party!

  31. Lbell16 says:

    This soup looks delicious and so nice for a cold night. I desire to have lots of time to cook over the next month and be surrounded my family and friends. Love the dress!

  32. Winter minestrone soup for president! Yeah!

    That red and white dress is adorable!

  33. Fully packed with nutrition and so yummy!

  34. This soup is perfectly comforting for this cold weather we’re having. I can’t wait to try it out!

  35. If I follow the story correctly this soup has potential to become president, or congressman?

  36. Lora says:

    I’m all about this Winter minestrone for president. Yum!

  37. Are you kidding? This looks like my kind of minestrone!I love that chard in there.

  38. Jeanette says:

    I would love a bowl of this hearty down to earth minestrone right now – can I come over?

  39. Nutmeg Nanny says:

    This soups looks amazing! While I love my grandmother (and her food!) nothing like this was ever made in our family. We are from the south so everything is fried in bacon fat…haha.

    The giveaway sounds fun too. You’re going to look so festive that dress! I would probably pick a fun scarf and some accessories.

  40. Sounds like my kind of soup. Brilliant!

    Camila Faria

  41. You have such a gift for making a pedestrian dish like minestrone look like a Top Chef masterpiece! I just changed my dinner plans for tonight!


  42. Love the soup, and the dress! 🙂

  43. Pat R says:

    That soup looks divine!

    [email protected]

  44. Bob says:

    The soup looks great! The dress looks like a dress… no need to enter me in the giveaway. If a man wants to wear dresses that’s his business, I don’t really care. But I’m a pant’s kinda dude. Heh.

  45. vianney says:

    comfort in a bowl, I would love a bowl right about now..

  46. Anonymous says:

    Love, love, love that red and white striped dress!

    [email protected]

  47. Mary says:

    What a wonderful winter soup. That will beat back the chill. It sounds delicious. Have a great day.Blessings…Mary

  48. Wonderful and lovely soup…looks delicious.

  49. geni says:

    I would love to have this soup waiting for me in my fridge when I got home! How hearty and wondeful!

  50. Debbie says:

    Looks like one great, hearty soup…especially with the weather getting colder every day. Love the dress too!

  51. Melissa says:

    This soup looks so delicious for a snowy day like today! And I love the dress you chose!

  52. Kristen says:

    An Italian cabbage soup sounds really, really good right now.

  53. bellini says:

    I would never fling this soup Joanne, I would want to slurp up every drop!

  54. Joanne, this soup is fabulous. If you want to be spokesperson, I’ll be campaign manager 😉

  55. And I totally liked Shabby Apple because that dress is the cutest thing I’ve seen today.

  56. Amy says:

    I was class president 2 years in a row. I also won an award for “most likely to be heard without a microphone” *ahem*

  57. Miriam says:

    The soup looks awesome! And I love SHabby Apple and already follow them on facebook. (I hope I win :), [email protected]Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

  58. I love non assuming, hearty, delicious soups. Not pretentious, just natural wholesome ingredients and good for you nutrition. This is definitely on of those.

  59. T says:

    oh that particular dress has been on my wishlist for ages!

  60. T says:

    I love Shabby Apple and already follow them on facebook

  61. Christine says:

    I’ve been looking for a new minestrone to try, so in the mood for it! This will be in my pot very, very soon! Thanks so much!!

  62. Dining Alone says:

    The photos on your blog are gorgeous!

  63. Zac says:

    have cooked the last 3/5 recipes you have posted and i think this will make me 4/6.

  64. Valerie says:

    This soup looks absolutely delicious!

  65. Valerie says:

    Also, I like Shabby Apple on fb. 😀

  66. Lauren says:

    I want that dress and this soup!

  67. polwig says:

    This soup makes me hungry and that dress makes me feel like I should be eating your soup every day and running your regiment in order to fit in it “_

  68. polwig says:

    OMG these dresses are so awesome, so my style. I am getting one as a gift to myself once I drop a few 🙂 Thanks for turning me onto Shabby Apple.

  69. kickpleat says:

    I love Shabby Apple and I just pinned 2 dresses and 1 of their skirts on my Pinterest board. Love! And I love soup, obviously. This looks delicious.

  70. Claudia says:

    Just the sort of Winter comfort food we all crave. Even in Hawaii, where believe it or not, it can get windy and chilly. I totally wore a long sleeve shirt today.

  71. romanholiday says:

    I love minestrone. Is it strange that I adore cabbage, too? Thank you for this giveaway!

  72. Kalyn says:

    This looks like a fantastic version of minestrone. I love the swiss chard and the big pieces of cabbage. (And don’t enter me in the giveaway, but good luck to everyone else.)

  73. Delicious looking Minestrone and what a fantastic red and white dress!! I like.

  74. I liked Shabby Apple on Facebook! ;0

  75. LOL..loved your post and the soup looks like great comfort food!

  76. I LOVE Minestrone! And yours looks absolutely delicious mmmm 🙂

  77. Johanna GGG says:

    I know exactly what you mean about craving such soups – I would have been so happy to have that soup in my kitchen last night when everything went wrong (I blame the supermarket who can’t make decent pasta)

  78. This is really the best time to eat soup, when the weather is cooler. And i love this recipe and most soup’s in general, so well done. Richard

  79. Sarah Caron says:

    Oh my, I kind of want to make out with that soup after your description. Not in a creepy way. Of course. Sounds delicious.

  80. Sarah Caron says:

    Also, that’s a seriously cute dress. I follow Shabby Apple on Facebook.

  81. I love a healthy and delicious bowl of soup at this time of year! The cabbage looks great in this recipe.

    I’ll pass on the giveaway in deference to your younger readers 🙂

  82. Oh delicious…If this soup was that man I would TOTALLY make out with him…er it? Whatever.

    I don’t own a dress…perhaps this shall be my first one!!! I’d like that 🙂

  83. Amy says:

    I’m not normally a soup fan – but this looks great! Thanks for inspiring me to want to cook it 🙂

  84. Judy says:

    This is my kind of soup. I am crazy about Swiss chard.

  85. Minestrone is just for me. It is how so much goodness in it.

  86. Sarah says:

    shabby apple is so great. i love everything there!

  87. Sarah says:

    i also like shabby apple on facebook.

  88. That Girl says:

    We had minestrone this week – yours looks way better.

  89. This is a gorgeous soup- I feel healthy just looking at it.:)

  90. Mila says:

    I’m working on eating a soup every day – this weekend it’s been a spiced pumpkin – so I feel you 🙂

  91. Mila says:

    I’ve also liked Shabby Apple!

  92. I adore Shabby Apple and definitely like them on Facebook. 🙂

  93. Your soup looks so scrumptious, Joanne. 🙂 I had no idea minestrone could be so good until I had it in Italy made by my friends’ adorable elderly aunt. 🙂 Delicious!! And yours looks every bit as good. 🙂

  94. Barbara says:

    You picked a winner from The River Cafe, Joanne. What a fabulous soup….loaded with healthy things and full of hearty flavor! For once, we had a HUGE choice of recipes! 🙂
    Adorable red dress!

  95. daphne says:

    all in one dish! I like!!!

    and what a link. All the pretty dresses. I’m such a fan of the navy pleated dress..oooo.

    I like it on Facebook too.

  96. I love all the cabbage in this soup! It sounds like such a nice comforting dish. 🙂

  97. Miranda says:

    I have never seen a minestrone look this great!

  98. Reeni says:

    I was craving minestrone the other day – love the idea of a winter version! Super comforting. The dress you picked is adorable.

  99. Reeni says:

    I liked Shabby Apple on FB!

  100. Looks delicious! I love minestrone!

  101. OMG that looks soooooo delish!!!!

  102. I’d def vote for him! Does the slushie throwign actually happen in real life?

  103. Carolyn Jung says:

    That is a meal in a bowl! Nothing better than a hearty bowl of soup at this time of year. 😉

  104. This is one gorgeous bowl of soup–I love all the healthy ingredients that are piled into the bowl–Yum!

    Thanks for sharing it with Souper Sundays. 😉

  105. Sounds comforting AND healthy. Love.

  106. sophia says:

    Wow that looks stick-on-the-bones good and hearty and substantial. My kind of soup!

  107. peachkins says:

    This looks really comforting!

  108. Hotly Spiced says:

    Your soup looks beautiful. Nicely photographed. The River Cafe is on my list of ‘must visit, even just once’.

  109. I do admire your sense of imagination, Joanne… I still don’t get the high potential congressman -to-be-guy and soup co-relation. But I am sure we all love your quaintness… ovary achingly adorable…verbal occupation hazard?

  110. Question: Are you going to do any ‘healthier’ Christmas desserts?

  111. Catherine says:

    Dear Joanne, I just love, love , love this type of meal. It is cold and damp today and this would hit the spot. Blessings my dear, Catherine xo

  112. tigerfish says:

    I have always enjoy minestrone and love your winter version.

  113. Natalie says:

    i want this soup!! and that dress!

  114. Dana says:

    The whole year we lived in London, I kept pining for a dinner at the River Cafe. But because it’s London, where everything is crazy expensive, and because Randy was paid in dollars while we were there, and because the dollar kept falling against the pound, we just never could justify the expense. HUGE regrets about that. It wasn’t even far from where we lived. I’m kind of loving soup with lots of noodles these days and this looks like a great dinner to me.

  115. Chris says:

    Soup for president? Bah! I’m a life long member of the Pulled Pork Party and voting for my candidate 🙂

    I will NOT wear that dress….

  116. curliecue says:

    you probably already know this, but your pictures are just lovely! i’ll need to try this soup to treat my dad, he loves minestrone. lmlynch2 at gmail dot com

  117. curliecue says:

    i like shabby apple on fb and i love that dress too! good luck all and thanks for hosting the giveaway! lmlynch2 at gmail dot com

  118. Wow, that soup looks incredible. I love a good minestrone and can’t wait to try this.
    [email protected]

  119. Cate says:

    I just made this for dinner tonight… SO GOOD! Thanks for another delicious and healthy recipe!

  120. Rebecca says:

    I made this tonight and it’s superb!! Thank you for making amazing, healthy food 🙂

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