Friday Turkey Vegetable Soup 101

November 23, 2011 | By andrea | Filed in: Main Dish, Recipes, Soup/Stew, Thanksgiving, Turkey.

I love Thanksgiving leftovers, especially when I turn them into an entirely different meal…it’s my favorite part of the whole Thanksgiving dinner. This recipe for Friday Turkey-Vegetable Soup is a good, basic soup for using the turkey carcass and some leftover turkey.

For the soup base, I started with 4 quarts of water, let  it simmer for 4 hours, and ended up with about 7 cups of broth. I added a little more water and about 2 cups of leftover gravy.

For the actual soup, I followed the recipe but used only half a large turnip (a little goes a long way). I also added a small amount of egg noodles to make it a bit heartier, letting the noodles cook in the simmering broth. Garnish each serving with chopped parsley. Enjoy!

Friday Turkey Vegetable Soup 101
-recipe from Thanksgiving 101 by Rick Rodgers

Makes 8 to 12 servings
The most common way of making leftover turkey soup is to toss the carcass and vegetables into a pot and simmer with water until the broth is flavorful. That’s a good beginning, but the flavor is also cooked out of the turkey meat and vegetables (and you have to look out for little pieces of bone in your soup). It’s a better idea to treat this broth as the first step in the soup-making process. Freeze the soup in one-pint containers for those winter days when homemade turkey soup is just what the doctor orders.

For the Soup Base:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 medium celery rib with leaves, chopped
1 turkey carcass, chopped into large pieces (about 3 inches square), with edible meat removed and reserved
4 parsley sprigs
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns

For the Soup:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 medium celery ribs with leaves, chopped
1 medium turnip, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
Friday Turkey Soup Base (recipe above)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
4 cups bite-size pieces cooked turkey (about 1 pound)
Salt and freshly milled black pepper
In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the turkey carcass. Pour in enough cold water (about 3 quarts) to cover the carcass by at least 1 inch. Make sure to use cold water to make your broth: it will draw more flavor from the ingredients. Bring to a boil over high heat, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface.

Add the parsley, thyme, bay leaf, salt, and pepper. Don’t be afraid to add enough salt. Reduce the heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, adding more water as needed to keep the carcass covered, until the broth is well flavored, at least 2 and up to 4 hours.

Place a colander over a large bowl or pot. Pour the soup base through the colander, and discard the solids. Let the base stand for 5 minutes, then skim any clear fat from the surface. Add enough water to make 2 quarts soup base; or, return to the pot and boil over high heat until reduced to 2 quarts. (The soup base can be frozen for up to 3 months. Cool completely, then store in airtight containers.)

In a large soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, turnip, and garlic, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are golden, about 6 minutes. Add the soup base and parsley and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 1 hour. To thicken and enhance the color and flavor of the soup, stir cold gravy into the soup to taste during the last 10 minutes of simmering. During the last 5 minutes, stir in the turkey. Season the soup with salt and pepper. Serve hot. (The soup can be frozen for up to 3 months. Cool completely and store in airtight containers.)

Amish Turkey-Vegetable Soup: Substitute 2 boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes, for the turnip, and add during the last 20 minutes of simmering. During the last 10 minutes, add 8 ounces dried wide egg noodles, and cook until tender. Season the soup with 1/4 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads, or more to taste.
Italian Egg Drop Soup: Mix 2 large eggs and 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan. Season with salt, pepper, and freshly grated nutmeg. After adding the turkey to the soup, stirring constantly, add the egg mixture. Simmer until the egg mixture forms tiny flakes.

Tips for making the soup:

  • Even if you don’t want to turn the turkey carcass into a soup, make the soup base anyway and freeze to substitute for chicken broth in other recipes.
  • Trim all the edible meat from the turkey carcass. Cooked turkey should be added to the finished soup just before serving to heat through. If overcooked, it will be flavorless and tough.
  • If there are bits of stuffing in the carcass crevices, leave them alone — the bread will dissolve into the broth and thicken it slightly. However, if the stuffing includes flavors that would not compliment the broth (such as rice, fruit or nuts), rinse the stuffing off the carcass under cold running water.
  • The carcass should be chopped into large pieces (3 inches square or so), to enable the bones to release more flavor into the broth. Also, it takes too much water to cover a whole carcass, resulting in a weak, watery broth. A heavy cleaver works best, but if you don’t have one, use your hands to break up the carcass into manageable pieces. Of course, add any extraneous (drumstick or thigh) bones and skin to the pot too.
    Sauteing the vegetables gives them more flavor. But don’t overdo the vegetables for the sup base — let the turkey flavor come through.
  • Use cold water to make your broth. It will take longer to come to a simmer, but it will draw more flavor from the ingredients. If you have any leftover turkey stock from your Thanksgiving turkey, use it in place of some of the water.
  • Allow the broth to come to a simmer and skim off the foam before adding the seasonings. If you add the seasonings at the beginning, they’ll float to the top and be skimmed off with the foam.
  • While a stock is unsalted because it is going to be used in sauces that may be reduced, a soup broth base should be salted. Don’t be afraid to add enough salt–it make the difference between a well-flavored soup and a bland one.
  • If your turkey soup base tastes weak even after seasoning, it is perfectly fine to bolster it with canned chicken broth or bouillon cubes.
  • Use a cheesecloth- or kitchen towel-lined colander to strain the solids from the broth. It’s hard to clean the solids froma  wire sieve, and most are too small to strain out the large bones anyway.
  • Leftover gravy will thicken and enhance the color and flavor of any soup. Stir cold gravy into the soup (not the soup base) to taste during the last 10 minutes of simmering.
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