(Today’s)Yankee Bean and Macaroni Soup

A New England classic that stands the test of time – inexpensive, quick, and really tasty.

When I was growing up, Mom often put together a “Yankee Bean Soup” using leftover beans from another meal and a ham bone for flavor. It was a quick meal, tasty, filling, and usually served up with biscuits. There were seven of us in the house, mom worked full-time, and cooked everything from scratch, so quick and easy was always on her mind, and this soup was always a little different each time. However, it always had a tomato base, some beans, and macaroni.

When I became mother, it was one of those recipes I could pull together when I didn’t know what else to make, often using a can of beans in place of the cooked dried beans, and I varied the shape of the pasta to include shells (the kids’ favorite), bow ties, alphabet pasta, or even broken up spaghetti if that is all I had on hand.

A change or two, that’s all

I made very few changes to her recipe, but started with omitting the ham bone. She most likely sautéed the vegetables in bacon fat and I used olive oil. If she didn’t have a ham bone, she would use hamburger. I used mushrooms here because I had them on hand and they needed to be used, although I don’t remember her using them in a soup like this, those were reserved for special occasions. I added leek because, you guessed it, I had it in the refrigerator. In summer we would have used fresh tomatoes, but most likely it would be made with canned. 

Don’t forget the macaroni

The macaroni extended the simple soup and added flavor and texture. I finished with the pesto drizzle because I think itl needed a little lift! Our tastes do change with the times. Croutons would also be delicious here.

If you don’t have a leek, use more onion. If you don’t have mushrooms, leave them out. If you have leftover veggies in the refrigerator, by all means, toss them in at the end. This is today’s version of my childhood memory food, tomorrow, it will probably be different, at least the soup!

Yankee Bean and Macaroni Soup

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 leek, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 4 cups stock or water
  • 1 cup macaroni
  • 2 cups Great Northern beans, cooked
  • Pesto to garnish

Saute the leek, onion, celery, and carrots in the olive oil until soft. Add the garlic and mushrooms, stir until fragrant, then add the bay, thyme, salt, and pepper to taste, and cook two minutes.

Add the tomatoes and water and stir it all together, breaking up the tomatoes. I use kitchen sheers for this. Cook for 15 minutes or until veggies are soft. 

Add the macaroni and cook until tender, then toss in the beans, taste, and correct the seasoning. Serve with a drizzle of pesto, maybe a bit of Parmesan, and some crunchy croutons. It’s all good.

My mom, me, and brothers Floyd and Michael.

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  1. brwbmm says:

    Add a little white wine to the broth and you have Pasta Fagioli, an Italian classic.


    1. Absolutely! It would be deliciouws. Thanks for the link!

  2. TaMara says:

    Oh, good timing. I’m visiting my dad and wanted to make him something to remind him of New England, this is perfect and sound yummy.

    1. Thank you! Have a wonderful visit. I’m sure it will remind him of New England!

  3. jeffreyw says:

    I may try that, if the slow brain from the old folk’s disease remembers and I have the stuff on hand. I never remember to put stuff to remember on the list of things to remember.

    1. I’ll remember that Jeffrey!

  4. A very hardy and delicious looking soup/

    1. Thank you Jovina! It was filling and tasty as well.

  5. sunisanthosh says:

    Such a delicious soup and cute pic.

    1. Thank you! We have precious few photos of us as children, and each one is a treasure.

  6. I love this New England take on Beans and Macaroni!

    1. It was a staple indeed!

  7. NativeNM says:

    This is so nostalgic! My Mom made a similar soup quite often when I was growing up. Thanks for the recipe, it sounds wonderful!

    1. Thank you Jan! It brings back many memories sitting at our very crowded little table.

  8. Tasty looking soup – hearty and light at the same time. Great recipe to have at hand. 🙂

    1. Thank you Ronit! It’s a good one to have in rotation, especially if you don’t feel like going to the market.

  9. Suzassippi says:

    This makes me want this for dinner tonight…but all I have in the refrigerator is carrots and one lone zucchini. I think it means it is time for me to head to Larson’s. The addition of the pesto sounds nice, too. I love the picture of your mom and you and siblings. It makes me nostalgic–even more than I normally am!

    1. Yes, my dear, it is time to head to the market, although carrot soup is pretty tasty too!

  10. Joni says:

    It looks like a nice hardy soup. Love the black and white picture!

    1. Thank you Joni! It is quite hearty, and satisfying, I’m glad you enjoyed the picture!

  11. CarolCooks2 says:

    Nothing beats a beautiful bowl of tasty and warming soup it feeds the soul 🙂

    1. It sure does Carol, especially if there is a memory attached!

      1. CarolCooks2 says:

        Absolutely, Dorothy… Thats best experience… 😀 x

  12. I am so glad I’m not the only one that will open a can of beans. This is almost exactly how I would make it. Thank you for your delicious recipe Dorothy!

    1. While I usually make my beans from dried, I always have a good assortment in my pantry. They are delicious and really handy!

  13. Amanda says:

    Nothing wrong with using whatever is left in the fridge and creating a delicious soup like this.

    1. The leftovers sometimes make the best soups!

  14. Looks and sounds delicious.

    1. Thank you Judy! We loved it!

  15. New England Yankees are considered very thrifty and a cook making your soup would probably always add what they had in the refrigerator that they thought would provide a flavorful and filling meal such as your version. Sounds great.

    1. Every heel of bread, every scrap of meat, nothing went to waste.

  16. janperk says:

    Hey sis, yup this looks like what mom used to make and we just loved it. It was a stick to your ribs kind of soup, and we always asked for seconds, along with her homemade yeast rolls, which we now call nana rolls. Sure does bring back memories.

    1. I know! The flavor, especially the rolls, brings one back to that little house.

  17. Nancy says:

    Love the picture of you, Mom and the boys at the end!
    Great soup recipe full of memories! Hardy and delicious!

    1. Thank you Nancy! I have precious few photos of my childhood, and this is a favorite!

  18. nancyc says:

    This soup looks so good—perfect for some of the chilly days we’re still having! I love classic soups like this! 🙂

    1. I know Nancy, we had flurries last night!

  19. Gail says:

    I like it when I get a complete meal in a bowl of soup. This one hits all the marks, Dorothy. 🍃🍲

    1. And if there’s pasta involved, all the better!

      1. Gail says:

        I. Love. Pasta. 🍝

  20. Chef Mimi says:

    This looks hearty and warming. Love that old photo!

    1. Thanks Mimi, it is one of my favorites, both the soup and the photo!

  21. terrie gura says:

    Dorothy, you are the absolute best at turning humble ingredients into pure comfort food! Your soup reminds me of minestrone, especially with the pesto drizzle! Oh, I can’t wait to get some basil plants into the ground!

    1. Thanks Terrie!
      I am drooling for spring too! I am planning to set some lettuce out in the cold frame this week, just to get things going!

  22. How Delicious! I remember having a soup like this growing up! Adding it to my menu planning!

    1. It’s a good food memory for many! It hits all the notes, delicious, quick and easy, and nutritious!

  23. JOY journal says:

    Mmmm. I make a version of this that has lots of garlic and lemon. It’s good any way!

    1. Thank you! Oh Lemon is lovely!

  24. Might have to try this recipe! We’ve had a week of cold, rainy weather – not fun when we’re ready for spring! Love the pic!

    1. It’s rained a lot here too, and more forecast. Those wonderful spring rains! Great time for soup!

  25. HI Dorothy, I make soup with beans quite often. I will add this recipe to my others. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks Robbie, I’m so glad you appreciate this recipe!

  26. Carolyn Page says:

    Thought I’d have soup tonight… This one will do just nicely! I have a new carton of mushrooms, and the rest of the ingredients are always on hand. Just thinking I may use the ‘farro’ instead of regular pasta/macaroni. I’ll almost cook it by itself and add it toward the end for fifteen minutes or so.
    Love the image of your mum, you and brothers. So sweet..

    1. Thanks Carolyn! I hope you enjoy that luscious soup, and the farro sounds perfect in it!

  27. There is nothing like homemade soup to use up those vegetables. 😊 This one looks delicious.

    1. Thank you so much Anne Marie. We loved it, such a nice move into spring.

  28. Judee says:

    Im new to your blog but really enjoying your recipes. this looks absolutely delicious. Can’t wait to try it.

    1. Thank you Judee! So glad you stopped by for a visit!

  29. Christy B says:

    Hearty and yummy! I’m a big fan of homemade soups 🙂

    1. Homemade soups are the best! They always taste like a memory.

      1. Christy B says:

        I LOVE that description xxxoo

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