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Tuna noodle casserole: An American comfort food

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The whole idea of creating casseroles and other covered dishes quickly and inexpensively can be traced back to the creation of the Campbell’s Soup Company. Founded in 1869 in Camden, NJ to can both soups and vegetables, the company’s fortunes took off when Dr John Dorrance developed condensed soups in 1897, making packing of soups much cheaper.

And the idea of using these condensed soups as the basis for home recipes was launched in 1916, when they published the booklet “Helps for the Hostess.” And after World War II, these dishes became a permanent part of the American landscape, and the basis for quintessential comfort foods.

One of these that has lasted for the better part of 100 years is the Tuna Noodle Casserole, made using Cream of Celery Soup as a cream sauce base. Of course, you can make exactly the same dish using turkey or chicken if you prefer, and even with baking time, this takes less than an hour to prepare.

And after the excesses of holiday dinners and parties this simple, comforting dish will be a welcome relief.

If you use canned tuna fish, be sure to get the tastiest: white albacore.

  • 3-1/2 cups dry egg noodles
  • 1 12 oz can tuna
  • 1 cup sliced celery
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 10 oz can Cream of Celery Soup
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 425º F.
  2. Cook the noodles in boiling water according to package direction, about 8 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  3. Put the canned soup in a small saucepan and add the milk.
  4. Heat through and add the cheese. Cook until melted.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, combine the celery, onion, pepper and mayonnaise.
  6. Add the tuna and mix in with a wooden spoon to break up any large lumps.
  7. Add the soup mixture, the salt and the noodles and stir to mix.
  8. Pour the mixture into a large oven proof casserole dish.
  9. Bake about 20 minutes, until hot and bubbling.
  10. Serve at once.

Traditional recipes suggest topping with slivered almonds, but most packaged almonds taste rather stale and we don’t recommend them. Try crushed potato chips instead if you want a topping.

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