To most Americans, macaroni usually means the elbow type. Growing up we called ALL pasta macaroni. It wasn’t spaghetti and sauce, it was just we’re going to nonni’s on Sunday for macaroni. So don’t let the title of this dish confuse you. We never use a short macaroni, it’s either fettuccini or some other long pasta. Breaking it in smaller pieces made it easier to eat.
More often than not, when money was tight, my grandmother wouldn’t add the grated cheese rather, she would toss into the pot, a Parmigiano-Reggiano rind (which she always seemed to have) instead. To me, I feel the same way about the rinds of such cheeses (Parmigiana and Pecorino), as I do about breadcrumbs … they are precious and should not to be wasted.
- 3 pounds cauliflower
- 1 tablespoon coarse salt
- 12 cups water (approximately)
- 4 ounces fettuccini pasta or linguini or spaghetti
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (or a piece of the rind)
- Asiago or pecorino cheese for grating on top, optional
Rinse cauliflower, cut into quarters.
Remove green leaves and core.
Break into flowerettes and rinse in colander.
Put cauliflower in a large pot and cover with water, approximately 12 cups. Add the salt, bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to medium high, cook until tender. This should take about 40 minutes.
With the back of a large wooden spoon or a potato masher, smash the cauliflower (still in the pot) to about the size of rice.
Bring the soup to a boil.
Break the macaroni into 2 inch pieces and add to the soup. Cook uncovered 10-12 minutes. Turn off heat, add 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese or the rind. Cover and let stand 15 minutes for flavors to blend. Remove the rind before serving.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Top with grated cheese if desired.