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To Cook Pasta: The Stockpot
You might think you don't need a stockpot, but owning such a piece really comes down to one thing: pasta. An 8-quart pot is necessary for boiling a pound of macaroni, which will feed four to six people (the pasta may fit in a smaller pot, but the water won't circulate as well, resulting in gummy penne). You'll use this piece for soups, stocks and chilies too. In Workman's house, it also doubles as the popcorn maker.
Size: 8-quart
Make sure to...purchase a pot with a thick, heavy bottom. This will prevent burning, which isn't an issue for pasta but is a concern for soup, since it cooks for a long time.
But don't...go for anodized aluminum (which is dark gray or black) if you're a new or unsure cook. When you're sautéing onions, celery and carrots for soup, for instance, it'll be difficult to see what color the vegetables are (e.g., to determine if they're translucent, as you want them, or pale, which means they've cooked too long), against the pot's dark bottom.
Try this recipe: Lentil, Tomato and Rice Soup