Dec 18, 2020 | Life | 15 comments

I haven’t cooked anything worth noting for a week-

Until today.

I sustain off taste-tests from work, bagged salad (yes, still), and half-drank cups of coffee that I only seem to get one or two hot sips from, despite it being housed inside of a Yeti.

And shit sucks.

I am fueled by copious amounts of anxiety and the kind of stress that has me wide awake and staring into the pale, full-moon face of my infant son at 2 am until the backs of my eyelids begin to sting. 

I really wanted a United Separation. Let me paint you a picture-

We’re separating, but we love our kids so hard and only thing that matters is being A Unit for them.

We’re separating,

But I’ve loved you for so long, I reckon I always will, and it’s okay that there is space because it’s healthy and needed.

We are separated,

But I care about you, your mental and physical health, your success, your happiness, you name it.

We are done.

And you know what it looks like?  None of that. It doesn’t look like any of that. It looks like the things I desperately wanted to avoid because I’m better than that. I wanted us to be better than that. 

It’s Scarlett struggling like I’ve never seen her struggle before. It’s hearing ugliness and words-you-can’t-take-back. It’s threats and moves that never had to be made.

It’s every individual for themselves.

It’s a big Fuck You.

The reason(s) I asked for a separation can basically be summed up by-

I think you love me. But I don’t think you like me. You don’t see me or notice me. The things that interest me, the things I do, the places I’m going, the life I’m creating, you don’t see it.

Our values don’t align.

I don’t remember the last time you noticed me.

And I wish you would.

And I’m lonely.

I guess-

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, you know? In my mind, if I removed myself from having to take up emotional and physical space in his head and heart, perhaps he would have more room to be my friend and be my co-parent.

But it’s not that today and I don’t know if it will be tomorrow. 


So while one of us continues to make things as emotionally charged snd shitty for the rest of us, I find myself still doing that thing with my buckets, and desperately trying to scoop water out of an already-sunken-ship. I collected orders, and marveled at the fact that my cottage bakery sold out in a matter of hours. I worked, and I baby-wore. I wiped the tears of my preschooler for the millionth time. I made Minestrone My Way, to offer some normalcy to my baby when she got home from school.


What even is that anymore?

I don’t know, but I can’t wait to find out. 

Make this minestrone YOUR way. Vegetarian? I like to add miso paste with my tomato paste (just hush, and try it). Maybe you want to add Italian sausage, maybe you want more beans or more vegetables. Use herbs, fresh preferably, almost anything goes (I said almost), and cook your pasta separately to avoid the soggy-scaries as next-day-leftovers. 

Yield: 6-8


Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes


  • 1 28 oz can crushed San marzano tomatoes
  • 1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 4-6 cups chicken broth
  • 4 ounces pancetta
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 yellow onions, diced
  • 1 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 small-medium sized head green cabbage, chopped or a few handfuls of spinach
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • A couple handfuls of fresh herbs. I used a couple sprigs of rosemary and a handful of basil to serve
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 ounces small pasta of your choice such as ditalini or mini-bowties (optional but suggested)
  • Red pepper flake (optional)
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Parmesan rind (technically optional but not really in my opinion)
  • Few splashes of red wine vinegar


    1. Heat a large pot on medium high, add pancetta and cooked until the fat has rendered and the pancetta is just starting to crisp. Do not drain fat.
    2. Add onion, celery, carrot, tomato paste, herbs of your choice, bay leaves, and a sprinkle of salt, sauté for 5 minutes or until the onions start to become soft and translucent.
    3. Add the garlic, a sprinkle of chili flake, and the zucchini, another pinch of salt and a couple grinds of pepper. Cook for two minutes or until the zucchini starts releasing moisture.
    4. Add the tomatoes and bring everything to a simmer, stirring often for 5 minutes.
    5. Add the broth and the Parmesan rind. 6. Bring to a very low boil and turn the heat down so that it gently simmers.
    7. Cover with a lid. Like with any great soup or stew, I like to give it some time to hang out. Preferably one to one and a half hours, stirring occasionally, letting it to simmer for an additional thirty minutes before serving. If time is of the essence, this be ready in as little as thirty minutes.
    8. Meanwhile, cook your pasta to al dente in a separate pot. This allows you to add it into your bowl prior to serving so that it doesn’t get soggy in the event you have leftovers the next day. I cannot stand over-cooked pasta.
    9. Once it has simmered for at least 30 minutes to an hour, remove the lid, add the beans and the cabbage and let it simmer, uncovered, for an additional 10-20 minutes.
    10. Add a couple splashes of red wine vinegar, taste for seasoning, give it a few solid cranks on a pepper mill and there you have it. 
    11. Serve over a spoonful of pasta on your bowl with freshly cracked pepper and a generous grating of fresh parmesan. 


  1. Tatum

    I literally have been in these shoes. I’m so so sorry that things aren’t going the way you envisioned themselves. Through the stress and tears and all the other crap and I know it’s hard but try to enjoy your kiddos. I nearly wished my entire single parenting and my sons childhood away because it was so difficult. Now I’d give anything to hold or hug my boy. It’s great seeing him grow and up and make his own choices but when they no longer “need” you, It’s a kick to the gut.

    • Terry Martin Brown

      Hi Ava, I’m already a fan! I will be a regular reader. Love the minestrone soup recipe! Even in Florida, cool winter evenings demand soup and I bought some White Lily Flour!!!

  2. Emily

    Oh, friend. You deserve to be seen and known. To be liked and loved.

    Scarlett will be okay, I promise. More than okay. She’s gonna see her mom work so hard to build a life she’s dreamt of. That matters. I know it’s so hard now, but it won’t be forever.

    In the meantime, I will hold your heart in mine.

    Looks like I found what I’m making in the weird dead time between Christmas and New Years.

    • truckeyava

      Thank you so 🖤
      Please let me know what you think.

  3. Carrie Behrens

    Wow, your words move me so. Take me back to that time in my life. I had a terrible go of it for a while with other life crappy things happening like death and illness. BUT I survived, I made it out. And boy you are well on your way. Hang in there. You are an inspiration! 💖

  4. Meg

    I know what place you are in. I’ve been there, done that and bought alllll the t-shirts. Just when you think you have got to be at the bottom you find out it isn’t. Good thing we are strong mamas. I learned how to pull myself up, protect and give extra love to the kiddos and some how manage get my shit together and do pretty well for myself. And you will too! I feel there is a cooking show in your future lol! Oh and the soup is awesome too 😉

    • truckeyava

      Phew. Thank you so much.

  5. Julie Conason

    SO pissed that your last post at NYTCC is already taken down before I had a chance to comment. Just here to say what I was going to say there — I love and admire you, and I’m in your corner, babe. All the way.

    • truckeyava

      You’re always the best.

  6. Molly Pearson

    Hi, Ava…Sorry to hear about the NYTCC’s hardline on Facebook. I just want you to know I’m making your minestrone soup right now to warm up a blustery PNW day. We are headed to our daughter’s house tomorrow, where she and our grandson have passed the Costco COVID test. I’m lucky to have had the same darling husband for 45 years, and he still thinks of me as a 30 year old. Hasn’t always been a walk in the park, but when you find “the one”, it’s worth all the hard work. Stay strong for your children, and be the best momma you can be. Thinking of you during these tough times with loving support.

    • truckeyava

      Please let me know what you think!

      • Molly Pearson

        Sorry, I just now came back here. The minestrone was delicious, even tho I didn’t have any appropriate dried pasta, so I cooked some frozen “fresh” egg noodles, and added them separately. I froze some soup, and my visiting daughter just finished it off yesterday! Hope you are well.

        • Molly Pearson

          Hello! I tried to reply earlier, but the blog said I already had done. The soup was delicious, and I really liked the addition of the separately cooked “fresh” frozen egg noodles I used Reames brand.

          • truckeyava

            Hi! Thank you so much for letting me know!

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