This is slumgullion:
Well, one version, anyway.
I didn’t grow up eating this. It is, however, the food of my
misspent hippychick starving-student days, when cheap and easy were the orders of the day.
I remember it started as boredom with cheap mac and cheese. I added some tomato soup to a batch of mac and cheese, and my own version of slumgullion was born. I didn’t call it that at the time, but a few years later, I found that this soupy mixture of macaroni, tomatoes, and often some kind of protein (TVP, cheese, whatever) had a name. And a fun name it is!
Most of the versions I found online share a base of macaroni, browned ground meat, and some kind of tomatoey sauce, but the variations are endless, and even those basics are negotiable: I saw slumgullion recipes that included potatoes instead of pasta, ones that were baked with cheese, and one of my commenters remembers hot dogs and scrambled eggs in hers.
The thing that makes this slumgullion and not just noodles with tomato sauce is the consistency, I think. It’s soupier than mac and cheese, but not quite soupy enough to be, well, soup.
Most commonly when I was in college, it ended up being mac and cheese, some kind of tomato product (tomato soup, canned tomatoes, or salsa), and occasionally something else for texture (onions or peas or Morningstar Crumbles or whatever). When I stopped being a vegetarian, I sometimes added ground meat, but it’s not necessary for me.
Today’s was a little foofier, chiefly because I’ve been adding veggies to EVERYthing, and this was no exception.
I pan-roasted some onions and cauliflower florets with olive oil, sea salt, and plenty of garlic, then tossed in a large handful of mustard greens and a cup or so of dry TVP. While the cauliflower was cooking, I boiled a pot of macaroni, then added it and a can of diced tomatoes to the veggie mixture. It was a little dull, so I dumped in some grated Parmesan. The end.
Tasty, simple, cheap. My three best friends.