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November 24, 2013

Sophie's noodle kugel recipe {vegetarian}

Noodle kugel, for any holiday celebration.

Judy, a longtime reader who lives in the Philadelphia area, sent me a favorite recipe for her grandmother's noodle kugel, a casserole my own grandmother used to make. I loved the note Judy wrote with the recipe, and she graciously allowed me to share it, and the recipe, with you. In the year of the Thanksgiving and Chanukah convergence, this noodle dish is a perfect addition to the holiday table, no matter which holiday you're celebrating this week:

My grandmother Sophie, who lived to be 98 years old, was an amazing cook. She spent a number of years in the 1930s and 1940s running the kitchen of a "resort" for union workers, and she never really adjusted her recipes to cook for just a few people (a tradition I seem to have continued). Grandma didn't wrote down her recipes, so I would cook with her and write down the ingredients and measurements as best I could.

This recipe is for Sophie's kugel, which is beloved in my family. I kept her words in the directions, and I always feel her here with me when I make it. We celebrate Christmas and Chanukah in our family, but I grew up celebrating Chanukah. In the early years of cooking our family Christmas dinner, making foods that didn't yet feel traditional, I had a flash of inspiration. Meet our "Christmas Kugel" -- my grandmother's recipe in a new context. She would have loved it.

Like my grandmother, I alter it to fit the circumstances; if it's for a larger group, I often use 3/4 pound of egg noodles and the entire 16-ounce container of cottage cheese. Sometimes I bake it for about 20 minutes the night before, then refrigerate it and bake it the rest of the way the next day. Make sure that some of the noodles are golden brown and slightly crisped on top.

Sophie's noodle kugel.

Sophie's kugel (noodle casserole)

From the pantry, you'll need: butter, pure vanilla extract, eggs, granulated sugar, cinnamon, kosher salt.

Serves 8.

Ingredients

1/2 lb egg noodles
12 oz small-curd cottage cheese (I used fat-free)
2 tsp cream cheese (optional) (Judy always includes it, and I did, too)
1/4 lb butter (one stick)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional) (Judy adds 1 tsp, and so did I)
4 large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup orange juice
3/8 cup sugar (I used 1/4 cup)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Salt to taste (I used 1/8 tsp)

Directions

(Lydia's note: I've added a few directions in italics, for clarification. The rest of the recipe is Sophie's, in her own words.)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Cook noodles (according to package directions) and wash in cold water (so they don’t lump). Do not overcook.

(Transfer the cooked, drained noodles to a large mixing bowl.)

Grease pan well with some of the butter -- about 1 oz. (I used the butter left on the wrapper to grease a 12-cup square casserole dish, and added the full 4 ounces of butter into the kugel.)

Melt butter and put into the noodles first thing.

Beat eggs well.

Mix in (the bowl with the noodles) all the ingredients except the eggs.

Add eggs. (It will look watery, but don’t be afraid -- it absorbs.) (Pour the mixture into the buttered casserole dish.)

Bake (uncovered) for 45 minutes to 1 hour. (I baked for 55 minutes, until there were some crispy browned bits on top.)

Let sit for 10 minutes, then serve hot or at room temperature.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]


More dishes from a Jewish grandmother:
Grandma's beef brisket in the slow cooker
Kasha varnishkes
Sweet potato latkes

Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Sour cream noodle bake, from The Pioneer Woman Cooks
Tuna noodle casserole, from Pinch My Salt
Chicken noodle casserole, from The Cutting Edge of Ordinary
Creamy noodle kugel, from The Shiksa in the Kitchen
Noodle and cottage cheese bake, from Eating Out Loud!

Comments

This is so interesting, I've never seen this before! It sounds delicious! I wonder if you could make a savoury version too?

Becca, you absolutely can! I've had a spinach kugel that's wonderful.

I have heard of kugel often and seen many recipes but have never tried it. It is not in my tradition, but it surely could become so. Is this meant to be a side dish or a dessert? I thought the former, with with the orange, vanilla, and all the sugar, perhaps I am mistaken.

I love Judy's story. It makes trying the recipe even more appealing.

Happy Thanksgiving, Lydia.

Connie, in our house it was served as a side dish (and made slightly less sweet), but it could be a dessert, too. Or breakfast, which we enjoyed the next day!

I've never had anything like this and I admit I'm not sure about the ideas of sweet noodles. But I'm intrigued.

Lydia, I enjoyed this post so much! Judy's grandmother sounds delightful, and I loved being able to "hear" her recipe in her own words. Thank you for sharing this beautiful holiday dish.

Love, Joy

Does "1/2 egg noodles" mean 1/2 lb of noodles?

Lydia, I have two questions about this recipe--does it mean 1/2 pound of noodles, and the should the pan be a 12 inch square pan, surely not 12 quart? I was treated to kugel once, years ago, it was served as a side dish and was only faintly sweet, but I loved it. I've searched for a good recipe occasionally since, but never found one that sounded quite right. I think this will be the one I'll try!

Stephanie and Dana, thanks for the catches! I've corrected the errors (mine, not Sophie's): 1/2 pound of noodles, and a 12-cup square pan.

Kalyn, the noodles are a bit sweet, so think of something like rice pudding, where a savory main ingredient is used in a sweet dish, and you'll get the idea. This is a casserole that's very popular with the kids in our family.

Joy, I felt that Judy's grandmother was speaking in my own grandmother's voice, too.

Lydia, I am thrilled that you shared Sophie's words and her recipe! It feels like a chorus of women's voices from different generations: you, me, your grandmother, my grandmother. Cooking at its most heartfelt. Thank you!

Great idea to use the butter wrapper to grease the casserole - I will do that from now on!

By the way, to those who are concerned about the sweetness: when served with savory dishes, the kugel isn't that sweet. Think of using it the way you might serve applesauce with ham, for example. It goes very well with our prime rib roast at Christmas. One tip I forgot: I add the cream cheese to the noodles in small bits right before I pour in the melted butter, then stir immediately - it helps to melt the cream cheese into the noodles. Mmmm....

Judy, it really is the best part of cooking to know that the women who came before are still here cooking with us. Thank you again for sharing Sophie's recipe, and letting us get to know her a little bit.

Lydia and Judy,
I loved reading this. I made my first kugel earlier this month, a pumpkin cranberry maple one, for Stefani Pollack's Thanksgivukkah mash up, and it was amazing the next day for breakfast. Since I put no sugar in mine (maple syrup for sweetness) I was delighted to encourage the kids to snarf up the leftovers the next morning.

And yes, we so learn from the women who have gone before us.
Thanks!

Kirsten, your kugel sounds delightful. My grandmother was not nearly that adventurous; she would make the same one or two versions over and over. But we loved them, and whenever I have a kugel with cinnamon, raisins and walnuts, I think of her.

What a delicious story! And a recipe I really have to try - I think it's going to become a part of my Christmas dinner this year!

TW, this kugel is so easy to make, and just sweet enough to be part of any holiday meal.

I have to admit, as some readers above did - I have heard of this dish and perhaps even seen recipes for it, but never gave it much thought never mind taste it - But that is going to change now! I am excited at the idea of playing around with it - adding nuts etc! THANKS

Carol, you can go sweet or savory with this noodle pudding, so have fun, and let us know what you make.

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my log house kitchen in rural northwest Rhode Island, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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