Today’s recipe is actually kind of special for me since it was the very first recipe I ever tried out for my family and I’ve been making it at least once a month ever since! I found it in a Dutch cookbook called ‘The Complete Pasta Kitchen’ many years ago but I’ve made my own version of since. I’ve made it for myself, for friends, for my mom/dad/brother/sister and even for my dad’s entire family and it’s always been a big success. It doesn’t happen that often anymore now that I follow a recipe word for word or even make the same recipe from a cook book as much as I do this one, it has to be my favourite casserole of all and I swear it beats mac & cheese on every single level.
Now granted, when I first read it, there was one ingredient that seemed a bit odd, even for an completely unexperienced cook: tomato soup. I wasn’t too sure what to expect of it at first but whoever came up with that idea should get a medal for it! The flavour you get from the soup is just so special and there’s just no way this recipe would’ve been as good if it had been tomato sauce instead of soup. So please just give this odd ingredient a chance and whatever you do: don’t replace it with tomato sauce!
I somehow also always end up with an insane amount of leftovers, which is obviously something most of my friends or colleagues love about this recipe. Now it does require quite a lot of preparation and cooking, but with some of my tips below you should be able to minimise the amount of cleaning up you’ll have to do afterwards.
Serves: 5 people
- 500g pasta shells or macaroni
- 1 zucchini/courgette
- 4 carrots
- 200g smoked streaky bacon
- 1 large onion
- 20cl sour cream
- 460ml tomato cream soup
- 150g grated Emmental cheese
- 400g chicken breast filets
When I first made this recipe I ended up with a massive pile of dishes to clean up but over the years I’ve managed to come up with the perfect way to make this recipe only using 1 pot, 1 pan and 1 casserole. The trick is to boil/cook your pasta while you’re chopping up all the vegetables and meat. That way the pasta will be done once everything else is ready to go and you can use that pot to cook everything else. So once the pasta is done, put it in the casserole already and simply put it to the side, it might cool down a bit but that’s no problem at all since we’ll be putting it all in the oven at the end.
So while your pasta is cooking, you can cut up all the other ingredients and preheat your oven at 190°C. Cut the carrots in thin slices so they will cook faster and slice the courgette up in medium-thick slices. Continue to cut up the courgette slices in 6-8 pieces so you have small chunks. Chop up the onion finely. Slice your chicken in small bite size cubes and slice the bacon strips in half.
By now your pasta should be done so clean out that pot and heat up some olive oil in it. Add half the onion first until it starts to brown, then add the carrot and zucchini and cook until both are soft, which should be no longer than 7 minutes. In a separate pan, heat up some olive oil fry those bacon strips. Set them aside once they are done. Add the rest of the onion to the pan (no need to clean it out, that way we’ll give the chicken a lovely extra flavour), and add the chicken after a minute or two. Continue to cook the chicken until no longer pink. There is no need to brown the chicken, it will continue to cook in the oven anyway.
Once your vegetables are done you should add the chicken, bacon, tomato soup and sour cream and stir it all together really well. Let this simmer at medium heat for a couple more minutes until the sauce is bubbling. Turn off the heat and pour it on the pasta in the casserole. Now it’s a matter of stirring it all together so that no piece of pasta is left uncovered. Once that’s done add a layer of grated cheese on top and pop it into the oven until the cheese has melted. I prefer to take it out before it turns into a crust, but it’s up to your own preference of course to decide when you take it out. Enjoy! Oh and ps, if you have any leftovers for the next day, put it in the microwave in a microwave-proof dish with a little bit of water in a small glass or jar next to it, this will keep the pasta & the sauce nice and creamy. If you put it back in the oven or don’t put some water in the microwave as well, you’ll risk ending up with dried out pasta, which wouldn’t taste as good.