For the vegetable broth:
1 onion, cut in half or quarters
2 cloves garlic
1 bunch celery, or at least several stalks
2 large carrots, cut into several chunks
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 cups water

For the minestrone:
4 stalks Swiss chard, stems separated from leaves
2 or more tablespoons of olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 14-ounce can kidney beans, drained and briefly rinsed
1 small zucchini, diced
2 small carrots, finely diced
1 teaspoon chile flakes
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
2 garlic cloves, or a bit of garlic paste
black pepper

For serving:
hard rolls
freshly grated parmesan

1. First off, prepare the vegetable broth. Combine the vegetables and salt, add the water, and bring to a boil. At this point, you can either simmer it on the stove while you chop the vegetables for the minestrone, or, if there is no rush, you can simply cover the pot of vegetables with a lid, turn the heat off, and let the vegetables “stew” in their own heat for 2-3 hours.

2. Dice the zucchini and carrots. Drain the beans and combine zucchini, carrots and beans in a small bowl.

3. Add the spices and garlic to the opened can of diced tomatoes.

4. Mince the Swiss chard stems and onion.

5. Heat the olive oil. Then sauté the onion and chard stems. Add a little black pepper.

6. Add the vegetables and beans.

7. Add the tomato sauce and spices.

8. Remove the broth from the homemade vegetable broth and add to the minestrone. Bring it to a boil and then simmer 20 minutes.

9. While the minestrone is cooking, tear or chop the chard leaves into small pieces, grate the parmesan, and heat the rolls. The carrots from the homemade broth make a nice snack while you wait for the minestrone to cook.

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Terimuso means friend in the lingua franca of Mali, West Africa. My poems reflect the many homelands of my childhood. My dad snapped the header photo to this blog in Casablanca, Morocco, as we were en route to Montpellier, France. This photo—with me in a red dress, holding my mom's hand—foreshadows the themes I explore in poetry: light and dark, East and West, mother and child. In this blog I juxtapose early and recent poems, stringing them together as they come to mind or as one theme suggests another. I invite you to accompany me on the journey.

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