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Full Bowls and Full Hearts

This updated version of a Depression-era family soup recipe warms the heart.

Recipes by Sarah Godwin  |  Photographed by Joe Worthem


This month, Empty Bowls returns to Oxford. To celebrate, our food editor shares a special soup recipe.


“This is one of Mama’s recipes, and I don’t mean my mother. Mama was my great, great grandmother who made this cozy soup in Louisiana during the Great Depression,” Sarah Godwin explains. “Originally, so that nothing was wasted, she simmered leftover beef bones and scraps of meat with tomato paste and water to create a rich broth. After many hours, she added elbow macaroni, seasoned with salt and pepper, and Red Noodle Soup became a family staple. Even though the recipe is updated, the nostalgia of Red Noodle Soup remains.”


Red Noodle Soup

4 to 5 pounds boneless chuck roast

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups beef bone broth

2 (6-ounce) cans tomato paste

4-5 cups water, divided

4 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni


Cut roast into 1-inch cubes, and season with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium; add roast, and sear until browned on all sides, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer browned meat to a slow cooker, reserving drippings in skillet. Whisk bone broth and tomato paste into drippings, and simmer, whisking often, until smooth. Transfer broth mixture to the slow cooker. Add 2 cups of the water, and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Cover, and cook on low for 8 hours. Transfer soup to a stockpot, and stir in enough of remaining water (2 to 3 cups) to thin soup to desired consistency. Add pasta, and cook over medium-high heat until pasta is tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat, season with additional salt and pepper to taste, and serve.


Rosemary Foccaccia

2 tablespoons honey

1 1/3 cup warm water

2 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 tablespoon dried rosemary

3 ½ cups all-purpose, unbleached flour

1 teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons coarse sea salt, plus more for sprinkling


In a large bowl, add honey, warm water and yeast. Swirl to combine, and let stand until yeast is foamy, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, stir together olive oil and rosemary in a small bowl, and let stand until ready to use. In another bowl, stir together flour, garlic powder and salt. Stir into yeast mixture until combined. Add half of olive oil mixture, and knead 4-5 minutes. Drizzle a little olive oil around edge of bowl to prevent dough from sticking as it rises. Cover with a damp towel, and let rise in a warm place (85°F) 45 minutes to 1 hour.


Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a large skillet with half of the remaining olive oil mixture. Add dough and spread using fingers to create small indentions. Drizzle with remaining olive oil mixture, and spread dough with fingers again. Sprinkle with additional sea salt, and bake until golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes. While hot, drizzle with additional olive oil, and serve.

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