Setting a faithful, tasty Lenten table with recipes from Catholic cookbooks

Among my treasured culinary resources is a collection of Catholic cookbooks gathered over the years from parishes, retreat houses, convents and sometimes even when – to my delight – I find one for sale at one of the thrift shops whose proceeds benefit Catholic social justice causes.

Throughout the year – and most especially at Lent – I find their inspired recipes for everything from soup to nuFeatured imagets just the ticket for the kind of creative, yet simple meals that Pope Francis would welcome at table (or so I believe!)

Among the favorite books is a heritage collection of recipes I was lucky enough to come by from Msgr. James J. Innocenzi, pastor of St. George Parish, Titusville. Entitled “Heaven’s Bounty,” the collection of hundreds of lovely and extremely workable recipes was compiled under his supervision when he was pastor of St. Michael Parish, Trenton, now a part of St. Ann Parish, Lawrenceville.

Bounty’s standout recipe for Meatless Italian Minestrone Soup by Ronnie Brun would be wonderful served up with tasty cornbread from the Upper Room Retreat Center’s “A Taste of the Upper Room.” The book, I  which I purchased at one of their Spirituality Days held each November in Georgian Court University, has become one of my kitchen classics.

If I remember correctly, I was lucky enough to snag the last copy on that Spirituality Day and uncharitable enough to not relinquish it to the poor soul behind me who also had a “taste” for it.”

Meatless Italian Minestrone from the St. Michael’s Cookbook


-1 tbsp vegetable oil

– 1 1/3 c. chopped celery

-1/2 c. chopped onion

-2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced

-2 (14 ½ oz. each) tomatoes, undrained and chopped

-4 c. chopped cabbage

-1 c. chopped carrots

-1 can (46 oz.) tomato juice

-1 can (19 oz.) white kidney beans, drained

-1 can (15 ½ oz.) red kidney beans, drained

-1 can (15 oz.) garbanzo beans, drained

-1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley

-1 tbsp plus 1 tsp dried basil leaves

-1 tbsp plus 1 tsp dried oregano

-3/4 c. (4 oz.) dry small elbow macaroni. Cook according to package directions and drain.

-1/4 c. Parmesan cheese

Salt & pepper to taste

Directions: Heat oil in a large saucepan on medium heat. Add celery, onion and garlic. Cook and stir until crisp and tender. Stir in tomatoes, cabbage and carrots. Reduce heat to low. Cover. Simmer until vegetables are tender. Stir in tomato juice, beans, parsley, oregano and basil. Simmer until beans are heated. Stir in macaroni. Heat and serve sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

Cornbread from the Upper Room


-1 c. cornmeal

-1 c. flour

-3 tsp baking powder

-1 tsp salt

-1/2 c. melted butter

-2/3 c. milk

-2 eggs

Directions: mix cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Beat together melted butter, milk and eggs. Add liquid mixture to dry mixture. Pour into greased 9”x 9” greased pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until done.

Table Prayer

Lord Jesus, through
the hardship of the cross you give us peace; 
through the pain of
the cross you heal our wounds.  
As we make our way
through the mystery of your passion, 
fortify us not only
through the food we share 
but through the love
we have for one another and you, 
in whose name we

Source: Catholic Doors Ministry


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