Catholic Recipe: Minestrone
In many nations the Feast of St. Joseph is a day of sharing with the poor and needy, and nowhere is this better carried out than in the nation which perhaps loves San Giuseppe the most — Italy. In many Italian villages, and especially in Sicily, everyone of any means contributes to a table spread in the public square as a thank offering for favors received from prayers to this kindly saint. This tradition is known as St. Joseph's Table or Altar. The bread made for this day is often shaped like a scepter or a beard; villagers representing Jesus, Mary, and Joseph are guests of honor at the feast, and other guests are the orphans and widows and beggars. After Mass all go in procession to this festive table and, after the priest blesses the feast, everyone falls to with shouts of "Viva la tavila di San Giuseppe!" At the end of the meal every guest is given something to take home. At these feasts a good soup is usually served, preferably Minestrone.
Although all kinds of lentils and dried beans are eaten on Saint Joseph's feast, the cheese, usually so popular a part of the Italian diet, is not served, and instead of the usual grated Parmesan the minestrone would be served with dry toasted bread crumbs.
Cut the rind from the pork and set it to boil in cold water. Cut off a small piece of the pork and pound it in a mortar, with the garlic and the parsley. Slice the carrots, the celery, the cabbage leaves (remove ribs), and add with the butter, the dried beans, salt and pepper to the boiling water. Then add the rest of the pork and allow to simmer for two and one-half hours. Then add a handful of rice for each person to be served together with the peas. Cook until rice is done.Recipe Source: Feast Day Cookbook by Katherine Burton and Helmut Ripperger, David McKay Company, Inc., New York, 1951