The Jew And The Carrot

Shabbat Meals: Grandma's German Noodle Soup

By Sonya Gropman

Sonya Gropman

The Shabbat dinner tables of my two grandmothers were never complete without noodle soup. Each grandmother made it on a weekly basis — it’s such a basic staple of Jewish cooking. Nana, who was from Eastern Europe always made chicken soup (hers was like liquid gold), while Oma, from Germany, made beef soup, a base of so many soups in the German-Jewish cooking tradition. As different as they were, I loved both versions and I have always felt lucky to have two distinct cooking traditions in my background.

When my parents met, they were each introduced to the food traditions of the other’s family. My mother, whose family rarely cooked chicken, remembers eating a glorious roast chicken the first time she was invited for a Friday night meal cooked by her future mother-in-law. Conversely, my father remembers the first time he visited the Rossmersfor a Shabbos meal and being surprised by the berches, the German-Jewish version of challah. It looked totally different than what he was used to: it was longer and narrower and was sprinkled with poppy seeds. It was that night that he also came face to face with Oma’s beef noodle soup for the first time.

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