Beef, bacon and noodles

Lori Lancaster

Many fond food memories are associated with the holidays.

It hardly feels like Christmas if I haven't made a batch of sugar cookies. I have quite a collection of holiday-themed cookie cutters to prove it, should there be any doubt. And most years I scout out a new recipe to take to the various holiday functions as kind of a signature dish. Mostly recently those have included caramels with bacon and sea salt and candied bacon. What's with all the bacon, you say? Everything's better with bacon, even sweets.

And I'm a farm-raised carnivore. Meat figures prominently into the holiday meal. At my parent's home, that will be prime rib on Christmas Day. After all, my family raises beef cattle as part of our livelihood, and I even have a small herd of my own. So beef is definitely what's for dinner.

I associate an eclectic mix of foods with the holidays, from the forgiving lasagna for those family members traveling in from out of town at unpredictable times through winter weather to burnt dinner rolls (don't ask). But the first thing that came to mind when we received this assignment was my grandma's turkey noodle soup. While that may seem odd from a self-professed bacon and beef lover, it's one of my strongest childhood memories of food traditions during the holidays. It could be because I only saw my grandparents a few times a year, and I treasured those times. And the idea of Grandma Sadie making noodles from scratch seemed quite extravagant at the time.

You see, this soup for me is all about the noodles. They're toothsome and substantial and delicious and the opposite of what comes in a can of condensed soup. They are delightful, especially when added to stock made from a leftover turkey carcass and some veggies, like grandma used to do.

The noodle recipe is quite simple with just six ingredients and comes from the Better Homes & Gardens cookbook. That's the red and white checked one you most likely have in your shelf in one edition or the other. My mom's copy is well worn, with a circular black burn mark that looks suspiciously look a stove element emblazoned on one cover. Mine is shinier and less used, but the recipe remains the same through the years. If you don't have the cookbook, you can find the recipe on the web: bhg.com/recipe/pasta/homemade-noodles. Simmer some stock -- grandma will forgive you if you use the boxed kind -- while you work on the noodles, add in some leftover chicken or turkey, onions, celery, carrot and a bay leaf. Let the noodles dry for 20 minutes, toss them in the pot for a couple of minutes and you'll have the most delicious soup, one that brings back fond holiday memories for me and warms the soul.

Merry Christmas!