Begin Lent with prayer, ashes, fellowship, family and a nice bowl of soup


Catholic News Service photoToday, Catholic faithful the world over will enter the prayerful and penetential season of Lent. They’ll emerge from hundreds of thousands of churches and Catholic institutions including schools, hospitals and social service centers, marked with the sign of the season: a smudge of ash on their foreheads in the form of a Cross.

This morning, the staff at the Diocesan Pastoral Center had the marvelous opportunity to cross the threshold of Lent in the chapel/meeting room upstairs at Mass celebrated by Bishop David M. O’Connell C.M.

Like everyone else, the faithful foodies headed back to their desks at the conclusion of Mass with their foreheads well and truely smudged. Now, Jeanne Scarpato is working to get the Lenten Recipe classics on line and I’m putting the finishing touches to this entry which includes a link to a site with a lot of insight and information about the meaning and importance of this day:  http://www.mycatholictradition.com/prayer-ash-wednesday.html

I’ve also included a traditional ministrone soup recipe which often turns up on our table throughout the year. Its ingredients are a blend of those that went into Mom’s ministrone and our friend Joe Serrada’s family recipe for “minestra” — a Genoese concoction which always turns up on his table during Lent.

Ministrone ala Famiglia

Ingredients: 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil; 1 large sweet onion, diced; 1 stalk celery, diced; 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced; 4 cloves of garlic, minced; 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced; 2 small zucchini, diced; 1 cup fresh or frozen peas; 2 cups fresh spinach, chopped; 4 ripe plum tomatoes, diced or 4 oz tomato sauce; 1- 1/2 cups beans of your choice; 4 quarts vegetable stock; 2 cups elbow macaroni; salt, pepper and grated romano cheese to taste.

Directions: in a soup pot, saute the onions, celery, carrots and garlic in olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes, zucchini, peas, spinach, tomatoes, basil and beans. Add broth, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for one hour. Add pasta and cook until it is al dente. Serve with grated romano cheese and chunks of Italian bread.

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