Ristorante della Fontana's Minestrone Soup

Years and years ago, there was a fun Italian restaurant in downtown SLC. They served a seven course Italian dinner, including a Romaine salad you ate with your fingers, a sorbet palate cleanser, pasta, and the tastiest Minestrone soup I've ever had.
I was given this recipe as a newlywed, and was always a bit overwhelmed by the long list of ingredients. This cold winter weather inspired me to cook up a pot.

The long list...well worth it.

1/4 cup olive oil
3 cups diced onion
2 cups diced celery
2 cups diced carrot
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 cup whole, skinned tomatoes
1 cup french style green beans (I used frozen)
1 cup canned kidney beans
3 t salt
1 1/2 t white pepper
1 1/2 t garlic powder
4 T instant beef bouillon
3 T instant chicken bouillon (I substituted both with vegetable bouillon for my sweet husband)
1 1/2 tsp dried basil
2 t dried oregano
7 cups water
1 cup tomato puree
1/2 cup barley
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup canned garbanzo beans
1 cup macaroni, cooked
1 cup chopped spinach (I used frozen)
grated Parmesan cheese

In large, heavy saucepan, heat olive oil. Saute onions, carrots and celery until onions are translucent. Add diced and whole tomatoes, green beans, kidney beans, salt, pepper, garlic powder, bouillon, basil oregano, water, tomato puree and barley. Simmer 45 minutes.
Stir in peas, garbanzo beans, and pasta. Simmer 15 minutes. Add spinach. Serve hot, sprinkled with cheese.


e.brooke said...

HA! I remember going to Della Fontana, with the "older man" who lived down my street.

Ernie Burt.

I still like eating salad with my fingers...or toes...whatever...

and...I still hate sorbet!

Good times! Thank you for sharing!
This is fun to think about.

Jenn said...

Loved that restaurant! I'll have to try the soup! Good memories, it was a cool building/church. And the sorbet was fun as a young child. Thanks.

Debra said...

We love homemade minestrone soup at our house. This recipe looks so tasty. I am definately going to make this:)

Caroline said...

I love minestrone, yet have never made a batch from scratch. It's a great soup to warm you up from the inside without being too heavy. I may have to whip up a batch before this winter is through!

Frieda Loves Bread said...

This restaurant is where I had my wedding luncheon! I really miss that place...thanks for the recipe!

Joanne said...

It's amazing the things the cold can drive you to do. Although this looks like it turned out super well!

I Heart Salt Lake said...

Talk about yummy!

rochelle said...

I totally remember Della Fontana's. Such a fun restaurant! Did we maybe go on a double date there? I will have to try this soup...it sounds delish!

Ashley said...

This recipe is amazing. It tasted like I was in the ristorante, seriously amazing soup!
Thanks for sharing!

BrentandMelanie said...

We used to go there as much as we could. Glen Young the owner would always make a point to come and say hi. Before he "retired" he asked us if we would be interested in his cookbook. We of course said yes and later he made good and sent us one. We use it all the time and the receipes are the greatest. The cookbook is not available anymore sadly.

Nell said...

This would soup looks good enough to eat with your fingers. However I would use a spoon.
If Spring is just tricking us, I may have to make it, with vegetable broth like you did for a Meatless Monday.

Unknown said...

OMG! I am so glad someone else remembers this place? My parents and I went there often when I was young. We loved hte halibut casserole and I fondly recall the salad, the great soup and the sorbet! I have lived away - in NY for over 30 years - and this plce suddenly came to mind and I found you when I googled it! I wish I could get the cookbook.

Jerri Lyn said...

My Italian husband and I got married in SLC in 1973. While I admit that I knew very little about real Italan cuisine, an earlier business lunch there helped me chose it as a surprise honeymoon dinner location. That night Fontan's and I both got 5 stars. We have often fondly remembered our dinner and that amazing setting. Very sorry to here it closed.

Jerri Lyn said...

My Italian husband and I got married in SLC in 1973. While I admit that I knew very little about real Italan cuisine, an earlier business lunch there helped me chose it as a surprise honeymoon dinner location. That night Fontan's and I both got 5 stars. We have often fondly remembered our dinner and that amazing setting. Very sorry to here it closed.

Unknown said...

A great restaurant and a wonderful recipe. I have been using it for years and years since I found it in the Salt Lake Tribune. The original recipe is just a tiny bit different. It includes 1 Cup shredded white cabbage, and the macaroni was ditalini, which is small salad macaroni, or small pasta shells. I always end up adding water, especially when warming it up the next day, but it never dilutes the flavor. When I take this soup to gatherings people rave.

IdahoJoe said...

Looking for the cookbook! If you have it, or know a source for it please share! It was my grandma's favorite restaurant and she still tells us about going there. I'd love to see the look on her face if we could gift her a copy! (or photos/photocopies at least?) I'd be happy to pay for it! Email me at idahojoe79@gmail.com Thanks!!

Unknown said...

IdahoJoe have you been able to track down the cookbook? I am looking for it as well for my parents 50th wedding anniversary in June. They had a lot of bad things happen around their wedding but this restaurant was the positive memory they have. We were hoping to recreate their meal there and present them with the cookbook as a gift. If you or anyone has any idea how to get a hold of one, I would be so grateful! I am happy to pay for it as well! My email is mcol444@wgu.edu I am remaining hopeful! Thank you! Thanks for this minestrone recipe as well, at least that is one of the courses taken care of, and it looks delicious!

klb825@gmail.com said...

My husband proposed to me on a lunch date in the Della Fontana on the raised area by the fountain. It was our favorite restaurant and we ate there for many years. We had our rehearsal dinner there. But it wasn't just a place for a fancy seven-course meal. The lunch was extraordinary and it had such breathtaking decor but a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere. So many restaurants think that to serve fine cuisine they need to be snotty, this is such a mistake. We loved to spend time in the outdoors in our beautiful state and I would often stop by the restaurant after work to pick up a pot of soup and a loaf of bread. We would eat that soup for lunch or dinner until the last drop was gone. The owner also owned a seafood restaurant called Bratton's on 400 South. Bratton's was also extraordinary. Thanks for the reminder of this wonderful place and memories.

Linda said...

Hi IdahoJoe -
Will you email me if you've finally found a copy of the Della Fontana cookbook. I've been searching for a copy for more than a year. Thanks! lindee0420@aol.com

Unknown said...

Fond memories of this place!! Proposed to my wife at temple Square then had her family and mine waiting at the restaurant. I'm glad they fit us all in and I'm glad she said yes!!!!

LKDH said...

Found this a couple years ago. heaven!
Subject: Della Fontana Halibut Casserole

Poach 2 pounds halibut or whitefish fillets (we use our largemouth bass fillets) in 1 cup of chicken broth for 5 min. or until no longer transparent. Drain fish, cool slightly, and flake. Set aside while making white sauce.

Oil lightly, 4 individual sized baking casserole dishes. Place 1 cup flaked fish in the bottom of each. Top with freshly sauteed mushrooms, or drained canned mushrooms, 1/4 cup as desired. Sprinkle each dish with 3 Tbl. grated Parmesan cheese. Pour 1 cup of white sauce (recipe below) over fish/mushrooms in each dish.

Top each dish with grated Mozarella Cheese, 1/4 cup.

Bake at 400 degrees until well browned, 15-20 minutes.

Serve with pasta.

Source: Ristorante della Fontana, "A Return to Cooking," by Eric Ripert and Michael Ruhlman

White sauce
2 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

2 cups whole milk

2 cups half-and-half

1/2 cup full-bodied sherry wine

1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cube chicken bullion, crushed

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground thyme

1/4 teaspoon ground Italian spice

1/4 teaspoon ground sage

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 bay leaves

In a saute pan, melt butter. Stir in flour, using a wooden spoon. Continue to cook on medium heat, stirring constantly, until roux begins to turn dark brown. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Stir in milk and cream, spices, and sherry. Cook over medium heat until thickened.