Friday, January 3, 2014

Teaching Kids an Old Family Recipe: Homemade Noodle Soup

With Thanksgiving recently passed, we found ourselves with some leftover turkey. Two FULL birds to be exact. But what to do with them? Everyone was pretty worn on mashed potatoes with gravy, stuffing and the traditional turkey day fixin's.

As I stared at the birds in the fridge, wondering what to do with them, I remembered my Grandmother's old family recipe for making homemade noodle soup. She made it annually in Oklahoma but usually for special occasions: birthdays, holidays, etc. Her recipe included making broth AND egg noodles from scratch.

Two whole hens
two medium sized onions
half a stalk of celery
a few beef bullion cubes
Campbells Consomme broth
and, on occasion, carrots

Typically, the birds were boiled in one or two pots filled with water. Added to each pot was two onions, half a stalk of celery, salt to taste, and sometimes carrots. This was brought to a boil and then heat reduced until the meat fell off the bones. At that point, everything was strained out leaving only the broth. Added to this final broth was 2-4 beef bullion cubes and two cans of Campbells Beef Consomme.

Noodles were made by simply mixing up about four eggs, a pinch of salt and flour. The flour was added until the noodle dough was similar to bread dough. It was rolled out into flat pancakes on wax paper (lightly dusted with flour so it wouldn't stick.) The noodle pancakes were allowed to air dry for 60-90 minutes until they reached a "dryness" that allowed them to be cut into strips without sticking together.

Once the noodles were cut in bite sized strips, they were slowly added to the broth and brought to a boil. About 40 minutes later you would have the best soup in the world and usually for minimal cost.

So, as I stared at these turkeys in my fridge, I figured it was worth a shot. I would use a turkey instead of a hen and attempt to duplicate Grandma's homemade noodle soup with whatever I had in the cupboard AND teach the kids some "old school cookin'" in the process.

Grocery store turkey thawing in hot water.

The whole process took about three hours. I started by thawing the frozen turkey in some hot water in the sink. It took a good 20 minutes or so for it to thaw enough for me to easily cut into sections.

I added salt, onion powder and chicken bullion cubes to improvise.

My first batch consisted of two smaller pots which is why I cut up the turkey into sections. This also allowed me to show the girls which joints could be used to cut wings and legs off of the bird. On my second batch, I found a large enough pot to fit the entire bird into so no sectioning was required. As the bird cooked, I worked on the noodles.

Plain old eggs and flour

I started with four eggs and a pinch of salt. I added the flour until I reached a doughy stage that could easily be rolled into dough balls and then rolled out flat to be left to dry.

Here's the uncut noodles air drying on wax paper. (improvised rolling pin)

You can roll the dough "pancakes" out as big or small as you wish. It doesn't really matter. It will all end up in the pot. Sprinkle flour on the paper to keep the noodles from sticking.

Here the noodles are cut semi-symmetrical and stacked for slicing.

Cut the noodles into quarters and stack them on top of each other. Aligning them up straight will allow you to cut them into nice noodle strips (like the next picture).

Noodles cut into strips

Cut the noodles thinly as they will plump up generously in the broth when they are cooking. When placing the noodles into the broth, be careful not to dump too much of your flour into the broth because excessive flour will thicken it up.

Once the broth is ready (meat falling off the bones), strain everything out and set it aside. Add two cans of Campbells Consomme and a few beef bullion cubes. Use the remaining broth to cook the noodles. (I saved the meat and made turkey patties later, see next blog post)

I sent this pic to my aunt D in Oklahoma to tease her.

Add the noodles slowly as you stir.  You will see the noodles start to fatten up in the broth within five minutes. Cook the noodles until they are to the softness of your liking. I had kids eating out of the pot before the soup was even done. This was one of the few meals that everyone in the house enjoyed.

All totaled, since the bird was donated, the ingredients cost an estimated $5. One of my goals for 2014 is to shoot my own wild bird, use my own eggs (which will be ready in about three months) and mill our own white wheat berries. All that will be left is seasonings and should be super cheap. Wouldn't that be cool?

I think so.

Try the recipe sometime. Let me know what you think.



  1. Sound so very tasty especially today here in southern Maine. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Sounds good, OJD. I will have to try it sometime. Also, thanks for sharing. In trade, check out my blog for a very simple dirty rice recipe. Very simple. Good way to use up a lb of sausage and a box of Uncle Ben's Long grain and wild rice. My husband loves it.

  3. Looks so good. a word to the wise. frozen meat should be thawed by running cold water over it, or putting in the fridge for a few days. Learned that from working at a flight kitchen and at Disney World. Food safety.

  4. I have another suggestion for thawing that bird -- cook it. Put the whole frozen bird in a pot, add your other ingredients, cover with water, bring to a boil slowly. Once it has come to a boil, turn off the burner, put a top on the pot and leave it sitting until it is cool enough to touch. The bird will be perfectly cooked every time. This method works for any piece of fowl that still has bones. I learned this method from a catering cook book and have used it for 25+ years.

    Once it is cool enough to handle. I remove the meat, add all the not-edible bits (including the bones) back to the pot, and simmer (not boil - simmer) for at least another hour. This allows the calcium from the bones to migrate into the stock making it thicker.

    Now, the very best stock (IMHO) comes from spent laying hens -- hens that are at least 18 mos. old whom you butcher before/during their (at least) second molt. This is because the hens have had time to develop very nice flavor and lovely dark yellow fat. Be sure to include the feet when you boil the carcass. Sometimes the meat is tender, sometimes not.

    For beef stock I follow Julia Child's recipe in which she roasts ox tail bones in the oven, then simmers those bones in water. Lovely stuff, especially when you know how the cow was raised.

  5. Wow, you guys are good. Advice heeded and thanks Rob!


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