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.
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