The Post-Thanksgiving Soup
Thanksgiving is over. The guests have gone home. You have parceled out some of the turkey and pie. But you’re still left with … lots of everything. Turkey, potatoes, squash, corn, cranberries, bread, salad.
You have had a reheated Thanksgiving meal on Black Friday, a turkey sandwich on Saturday. What else can you make?
Leftovers from the feast make a delicious soup. A couple weeks ago I stopped at Saranac Sourdough, where I had a bowl of delicious Turkey Dinner Soup. Eileen said all the leftovers — including the cranberries — can go into this soup.
Turkey Dinner Soup is different from turkey carcass soup. Simply throw leftovers into the slow cooker: turkey meat, vegetables, potatoes, stuffing, gravy, even bread and cranberry sauce can go in. Add broth or water. If you want more veggies, add a package or two of frozen veggies. Then cook on low for several hours, until all the flavors are mingled together. Your reward will be a delicious soup.
There is also turkey carcass soup — cook the bony carcass with water, salt and seasonings for a large pot of turkey broth. Then make soup with it or freeze to make soup later. Turkey broth is the extra bonus you earn by hosting the feast!
Once you’ve picked off all the meat you can, place the carcass in a large pot of water, add salt and spices — bay leaves, whole grains of allspice and a few peppercorns — and simmer for several hours. Add other herbs and vegetables like celery, carrots, parsnips, turnips, leeks, onions. Later, add the pan drippings, dribs and drabs of gravy, and other things to the stockpot. Simmer on the stove for several hours. As long as it has enough liquid, it won’t need your attention. This, of course, will prolong that holiday turkey smell in your kitchen for another day!
Then cool, pick out the bones (the meat should have completely boiled off of them), and store in plastic containers in the refrigerator or freezer. I like to freeze it in ice cube trays; ice cubes make about 1/4 cup broth each and you can quickly thaw them when you need a cup of broth for a recipe. Frozen broth makes it easy to make homemade soup. Add vegetables, pasta, rice or dumplings to make it a gourmet meal and — soup’s on!
Soups are delicious and nutritious. They’re an easy way to add vegetables to your diet. Brothy soups are low-calorie and low in fat.
Experiment. In addition to your leftovers, almost anything can be added to a soup. Add some onions or garlic, some celery, mushrooms or carrots, frozen corn, green beans or other fresh or frozen veggies. Good seasonings include poultry seasoning, thyme, sage and rosemary.
Slow Cooker Turkey Dinner (Leftovers) Soup
Ingredients — amounts are variable and up to you
Shredded turkey (about 2 cups)
Stuffing (about a cup)
Mashed potatoes (about a cup)
Gravy (about a cup)
Cranberry sauce (about half a cup)
Chicken broth (4 to 6 cups)
Vegetables, either leftover or frozen — squash, sweet potatoes, green beans, brussels sprouts (2 to 4 cups total)
Seasonings of your choice: bay leaf, minced garlic clove, herbs like sage, thyme, rosemary or poultry seasoning, diced onion, sliced carrot, sliced stalk of celery, a few diced mushrooms (use whatever you have at home)
Fresh minced parsley, for garnish (about 1 cup)
Combine everything in slow cooker. Stir. Cover.
Cook on low 4 hours or longer, to let the flavors blend and the stuffing to fall apart completely.
Taste, and adjust seasonings.
Garnish each serving with fresh minced parsley.
Option: instead of adding the stuffing to the soup, place balls or chunks of stuffing on top of each serving of soup, as you would croutons.
Turkey Carcass Soup
1 teaspoon salt
3 bay leaves
3-5 grains allspice
3-4 whole peppercorns
bones from a cooked turkey
Leftover juices and cooked veggies or garnishes
2-3 stalks celery
Other vegetables of your choice
1 cup small pasta (like orzo) or rice
Bring a large stock pot to a boil. Add salt, bay leaves, allspice and peppercorn grains, and salt. Add turkey bones and juice. Cover, and lower the heat. Simmer for several hours (making sure it has enough liquid), until the meat falls off the bones. Cool. Remove the bones. Skim off any excess fat.
Prepare the vegetables (wash and slice). Add to soup pot along with cooked garnishes and gravy bits. Simmer at least 1 more hour. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Return to boil, add pasta or rice and any other vegetables, and cook until pasta is desired tenderness.
Author of the award-winning cookbook “Garden Gourmet: Fresh & Fabulous Meals from your Garden, CSA or Farmers’ Market,” Yvona Fast lives in Lake Clear and has two passions: cooking and writing. She can be found at www.yvonafast.com and reached by email at yvonawrite @yvonawrites.