I have never really had any good ideas about what to do with all of the bits of different types of macaroni in boxes and in jars that I have hanging around in my cupboards. There is never really an ideal occasion to use two handfuls of orrechetti or 1/4 pound of farfalle. That is what I used to think, at least. That is until I came upon this recipe in At Home with Magnolia: Classic American Recipes from the Owner of Magnolia Bakery. Alyssa Torey, owner of Magnolia Bakery, presents this delicious and unconstrained dish that is the definition of that trite yet appealing word: rustic. There is something so gratifying about using whatever it is that you can find around the kitchen and throwing it into a pot. No rules. And no wasting what you’ve already got. I like that approach—it is refreshing in a “things don’t always have to be perfect” sort of way. It makes me think of generations past who wouldn’t dream of wasting 1/4 cup of penne. And now I won’t either!
This recipe makes a huge pot of wonderfully thick soup. Don’t forget to use as many types of macaroni as you can find hiding in your pantry, and most important of all—do not forget the fresh bread for dipping!
- 4 cans great northern beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 3 cups yellow onion, chopped
- 5 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
- 8 cups chicken stock or broth
- 3 14.5 ounce cans diced tomatoes with juice
- 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 3/4 pound of any type of macaroni you have on hand, cooked and drained (if using spaghetti or linguini, cut into 1 inch pieces) Be sure to use a variety of shapes and sizes!
- 1.5 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
- 1.5 teaspoons of salt (plus additional if needed)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
And for serving:
- 1 loaf of fresh crusty bread for dipping
- Freshly grated cheese
Heat oil in a large heavy pot over med-high heat. (I used my Le Creuset.) Add the onion and garlic and reduce the heat to medium-low. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Cook stirring occasionally until the onions are tender and translucent, about 10-13 minutes. Add the chicken stock, the tomatoes and the rosemary sprigs. Bring to a low boil/simmer for about 35 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add the beans, Italian seasonings, and some salt and pepper. Cook for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Cool the soup by placing in the fridge for a few moments and then working in batches, puree about 1-2 cups of soup at a time in a blender until smooth, pureeing 6 cups of the soup total. (Do not puree the rosemary sprigs.) Mix the puree back into the soup pot. Stir in the cooked macaroni and season with the salt and pepper. Cook for 8-10 more minutes, uncovered over low-medium heat. Discard the rosemary sprigs and serve in bowls topped with grated cheese and a loaf of crusty bread for dipping!