Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Turkey Leftovers: The Soup

For anyone who has hosted a Thanksgiving dinner, knows about the leftover situation. I think the turkey leftover crowd consists of three main schools of thought:
  • Leftovers rock, I will do so many things with them!
  • Eh, turkey sandwiches are okay...
  • F the leftovers, blah!
Personally, I fit into the first group. I love the leftovers more than the main Thanksgiving dinner! Since I host it every year, I find myself stressed out and tired of the sight of food by the time the dinner is on the table. I pick at it a bit, drink too much wine and then pretend to be interested in attempting to sort of help with dishes...then drink more wine.

My favorite leftover is the turkey soup. Every year my parents come over the day after Thanksgiving, and we enjoy the turkey soup and some leftover bread together. It's relaxing, warm, and delicious.

  • Turkey Carcass
  • Giblets and Neck
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Parsley
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • 8 oz Tomato Juice
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Small Pasta (optional)
  • Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese (optional)
As soon as dinner is over, my husband starts dismantling the turkey carcass.  Dark meat goes in one container, and white meat in another. Once it's thoroughly cleaned off, we plop the bones and carcass bits into the stockpot*. I fill the stockpot with water, cover it, and start the boil. You can season the water if you like. I didn't season the water this year as I did the bacon turkey, and it was plenty salty and good as-is. Once it is boiling, turn it down to a simmer. This will go for as long as you want. I did mine for about 4 hours. Once you're tired and thinking of going to bed, take the stockpot off the stove, let it rest a bit, dump the carcass in the trash, and put the pot into the fridge.

The next day (early afternoon), take out the huge stockpot and see if any oil has hardened on the top. If so, just scrape it off with a spoon.

Put that bad-boy back on the stove, and turn up the heat. Add your giblets and neck if you didn't use them for gravy the day before. Roughly cut up carrots, celery, onion, parsley, and some garlic cloves. Add those to the soup. Pour in an 8 oz can of tomato juice, and season the soup with some salt and pepper. Once it comes to a boil, lower the temp to a simmer, cover it, and let it go. I let mine go for about 2 1/2 hours.

After about an hour or so of simmering, taste the broth and make sure it's seasoned to your liking. Add more seasoning now if necessary.

When you're soup is done, take it off the heat. Now is also the time that you'll want to boil up some small pasta** if you like that in your soup. I always put pasta in my soup, and I highly recommend it.

Remove the vegetables from your soup. I put these in a bowl and cover with some foil to keep them warm. It is now that you're probably going to benefit from some help - you need to strain the soup through a fine strainer. This gets you a really nice broth. Once your pasta is done, strain it and run some cold water through it to keep it from sticking together. Put some pasta in your bowls and top it with a couple ladles of soup.

Personally - it is at this point where I just top my soup with some pecorino-romano, and call it a day. My parents on the other hand, enjoy adding the cooked vegetables to their broth as well as chunks of leftover turkey. To each his own, and that's why this meal rocks. I made enough broth this year for at least 5 dinners!

* My stockpot has a removable strainer inside it - this makes all the difference when you're making soup. You can easily dump out the turkey carcass and strain out your vegetables after your second boil.

** I used tiny star pasta this year, and it was so good!

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