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Absolutely Fabulous Leftover Turkey Soup

BE NovThanksgiving is all about the main event. Sure, you love your family and if you’re lucky you’ll have the chance to hang with them for a bit over the holiday weekend. But what really is that time originally focused around? You’ve got it: dinner!

But after the meal you have:

• Exhausted yourself by making 10 different side dishes,
• Figured out how to cook the turkey (free up the oven and have the boys do it outside—yay deep fried turkey!),
• Managed more desserts on the table than you should consume for a whole year,
• Wrestled with the seating arrangement so that mom doesn’t sit next to Uncle Buddy and your little darlings don’t irritate Nana,
• And made sure that your entire family looks just so.

The dishes are washed and it’s time to sit back and relax. Right? Uh, not really. Because now you’ve most likely got a houseful of relatives climbing their way out of a tryptophan stupor and looking for something just as yummy, albeit a bit less stuffy, as the big meal.

Instead of plotting and menu-planning your tush off again, I say “Hail to Thee Leftovers!” By making a bit extra for your turkey day meal, you not only make sure everyone has everything they want for a yummy dinner, but you’ve given yourself the tools to make at least another meal or two, and cleared out the fridge in the process.

Here is one of my favorite leftover recipes, and trust me when I tell you, relax, crack open a bottle of wine or sparkling cider, and serve your family something easy and delicious.

Absolutely Fabulous Leftover Turkey Soup

1. Start by taking your turkey carcass (ours is usually deep-fried) and various bits and pieces and throw them into a stock pot (an 8 or 10 quart is best, but a 6 quart will work great too). Cover the turkey parts with cold water plus 2 inches or so and place on the stove. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for a few hours or however long you have. Longer is better, but don’t sweat it too much, just do what you can. I generally thrown mine on Thanksgiving night, mostly because we eat really early, but you could also throw all the bits in the pot, cover with cold water, and then place it in the fridge overnight until you’re ready to start simmering. When the liquid drops by an inch or two, it’s starting to concentrate and give you really good broth. Once the broth smells really rich and has a gorgeous golden tone, set a colander over a large bowl and strain the bones, etc. out. Leave the broth in the bowl while you do the next step.

2. Place the empty pot back on the stove and toss in a tablespoon or two of butter. Add any leftover vegetables, cut into bite-sized pieces and without sauce, to the pot. Sauté until tender, about 5 minutes or so. Great options here are corn, green beans, carrots, asparagus and maybe an onion from the pantry.

3. Now pour your broth back into the pot. My family eats Kluski noodles (they’re a dense, thin egg noodle found near the pasta at your grocery store) on every major holiday, so I take a huge handful of cooked noodles and threw those in the pot too. Add a teaspoon or two of crushed dried thyme, and generously salt and pepper it (some fresh parsley would be nice too if you have it). Pull turkey from the bones and toss in the pot as well. If you have leftover carved turkey, throw some of that in too.

4. Allow the soup to simmer 30 minutes or so, or until everything is soft and soup-like. Keep the pot on the stove if you like or gobble it all up right away (see what I did right there? Gobble. Get it? Like a turkey.)

Even though this soup seriously cooked all day, it required very little maintenance—more like just some alone time on the
stove. Easy. The house will smell great and you’ll get turkey part deux with just a smidgen of the effort of the day before.

Christine Van Bloem is the owner and instructor extraordinaire at The Kitchen Studio Cooking School in Frederick.

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