Minestrone with Mini Seitan Meatballs -

Minestrone with Mini Seitan Meatballs -


That first year of high school is rough.  Add starting high school in a new town, only knowing one person (a cousin), while transitioning to living with your grandparents, and you’ve got enough to give a hormonal fourteen year old girl a nervous breakdown.  Every day was a crazy whirlwind of emotions from trying to make new friends without seeming desperate, taking showers in a locker room with other girls for the first time in my life, trying to figure out if Sean from French class liked me (like, like liked me), remember my locker combination (lockers were another first), and reading 100 pages a day for my honors English class on top of all my other homework.  By the time my grandma would pick me up from school, I felt like collapsing.  She always seemed to know how to calm my nerves.  Sometimes, she would take me out for frozen yogurt after school, or makes us some coffee so we could sit and chat for awhile, or sometimes it was just letting me decompress in front of the TV, watching reruns of Saved By The Bell before I started my homework.   One chilly fall afternoon, when I was feeling particularly overwhelmed, after bringing me home, she got to work preparing that night’s dinner: Minestrone Soup.

Grandma’s Minestrone has healing powers.  That fall evening, as I ate her soup, with some crusty french bread, I could feel all of my teenage trauma melt away.  Grandma must’ve known that it was one of my new favorites, because she made it often, and later, when I no longer lived with them, she would often make it when I came to visit, and whatever my troubles, it always seemed to take them away.


  • When I moved out on my own, I called my grandma and asked if she could send me a couple of her recipes, one of them being her Minestrone.  She wrote it down and mailed it to me (I don’t think either of us had an email address back then).  Her recipe is huge and makes enough to feed an army.  It also has a ton of ingredients, so I saved it for those times when I had some time to cook or for those awkward times when I had to feed an entire army.  The soup retained its healing powers, but as I grew older, I knew it was because it warmed that spot in my heart where memories of my grandma occupy.
  • The other day, I went to a different type of yoga class than I normally go to.  I must have misread the class description because it was pretty much the hardest workout I’ve ever done, and I had already worked out that morning.  I was dripping sweat everywhere and my whole body was shaking, while others gracefully twisted themselves into knots while balancing on one limb.  This class tore me up.  I could barely ride my bike home.  I mean, muscles in my butt and legs were twitching for several hours after.  When I got home, I needed some nurturing.  The type of nurturing only Grandma’s Minestrone could do.  I know I’ve been on a “Grandma’s Cooking” streak (see this last post), but nothing else would satisfy me at this point.  I pulled out her recipe, made some revisions (remove Lawry’s Beef Seasoning and Hilshire Farms Smoked Turkey Sausage and replace with homemade seitan meatballs, for example), and began the meditative practice of soup making in order to comfort my body and connect to my grandmother.
  • Note: For the seitan meatballs, by following the instructions below, the balls will flatten slightly, but they are still amazing.  If you need perfectly round meatballs, follow all the instructions, except instead of laying the balls out on a baking sheet, cut out about 30-35 3 inch square pieces of foil and wrap each ball individually.  Then proceed to follow the cooking instructions.
  • Ingredients:
  • 1 cup vital wheat gluten
  • ¼ cup chickpea flour
  • ¼ cup bread crumbs
  • 3T nutritional yeast
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp dried basil
  • ¼ tsp rubbed sage
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 button mushrooms, finely minced
  • 2 T finely minced fennel
  • 2 T finely minced onion
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • ¾ cup vegetable broth
  • 2 T Bragg Liquid Aminos
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • Instructions:
Read the whole recipe on Keepin' It Kind