Today is Ash Wednesday, which for Catholics across the Treasure Valley marks the beginning of the 40 day period known as Lent...or I as I knew it as a child, the "Filet 'O Fish Season."

Without getting too religious on you, Lent in the Catholic Church is a special time of prayer, penance, sacrifice and good works as we prepare for Easter.  One of the traditions you might notice your Catholic friends observing is abstaining from eating meat on Fridays over that 40 day period.  As a child, I vividly remember a rotation of exactly three Friday meals during the Lenten season. It was always McDonald's Filet 'O Fish or Long John Silver's (oh, did I look forward to those Hush Puppies) if my parents had busy work days.  If Mom had time to cook? It was her family recipe for something called "Shells and Tuna" and I couldn't get enough of it!

A few weeks ago when the weather was kind of dreary and I was in desperate need of some "comfort food" I made the brave attempt to adapt this family favorite recipe into something I could whip up into the Instant Pot. To my surprise, I nailed it on the first try! Tastes just like what my mom used to make.

I wanted to share it with you in hopes that it can become something that comes to mind when you look back on fond memories of dinner with your own family during Lent.


  • 2 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 12 oz Pasta Shells
  • 2 Cans Chunk Light Tuna in Water
  • 1 Family Size Can Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 1 Stick of Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons Heavy Whipping Cream


  1. Pour chicken broth into Instant Pot. Gently submerge shell pasta as much as possible.
  2. Pour Cream of Mushroom over shells to cover them as much as possible. Do not stir.
  3. Drain water from tuna. Sprinkle tuna over Cream of Mushroom soup.
  4. Cut butter into thin slices and layer over tuna.
  5. Put lid on Instant Pot and turn valve to sealing. Cook on high pressure for six minutes. At conclusion of cooking cycle, perform a quick release.
  6. Stir mixture and scrape up tuna/shells from the bottom of pot.
  7. Stir in heavy whipping cream and let sauce thicken.
  8. Serve and enjoy!

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