Minestrone soup takes me back to my childhood. To birthdays, starry nights and lots of laughter. From ages 1-7 our family lived in Sebastopol in the cutest little log cabin surrounded by hills covered in green grass perfect for running and exploring in. One of the restaurants we always went to and my dad still talks about to this day is Dinucci's in Valley Ford. It amazes me that at age 40 the drives there and home and the restaurant itself are so strong in my mind. On the way home I would be so tired and can remember resting my head on the window and seeing all of the stars shining bright. My dad to this day still talks about this restaurant and how he loved that it would be full of lawyers in their suits sitting at the bar next to dairy men in work clothes and rubber boots. My mom always had a quarter for my sister and I to play Mrs. Pacman in the bar while we waited for our table. Every birthday dinner was spent there where we enjoyed rainbow sherbet with the sparkling candle that never blew out. The raviolis were tasty but what they were famous for, and still to this day is their minestrone soup. I have since discovered they have what could be compared to a cult following for this soup. When I was 27 met someone in North Carolina who grew up across the street from the restaurant and his mom waitressed there her whole adult life. Talking about the minestrone soup was like discovering someone else that belonged to the same secret club as me. This just proves the power of food and how connected it can make us. Unfortunately I do not have their recipe but I have figured out how to make a decent runner up soup to theirs. What is great about minestrone is that it can be made with whatever is in season at the moment. Zucchini in the summer and the greens and winter squash in the colder months. Most recipes call for celery, however I like to use fennel in it's place because I am not a fan of celery. Use whichever one you prefer.