Every Thanksgiving my mother takes what’s left of the turkey carcass and makes a delicious turkey soup that we enjoy for days.
The first step is to make the stock, which you can get started on right after dinner.
Mom’s Turkey Soup Recipe
The amounts shown are a guideline. Improvise at will depending on the ingredients you have on hand and how much soup you are making.
For the stock:
- 1 turkey carcass, leftover from carving a whole turkey, including any leftover drippings or giblets (not the liver) if you have them
- Cold water
- 1 medium to large yellow onion, quartered or cut into thick wedges
- 1 to 2 carrots, roughly chopped (can include tops)
- Several sprigs of fresh parsley
- 1 to 2 sprigs of thyme, or a teaspoon of dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 celery rib (roughly chopped) and some celery tops
- 5 to 10 peppercorns
For the soup:
- 3 to 4 quarts of the turkey stock you just made
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups each, chopped carrots, onion, and celery
- A few sprigs of fresh parsley, leaves chopped (about 2 to 4 Tbsp)
- A couple cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons of poultry seasoning (more to taste) or a combination of ground sage, thyme, marjoram, and/or a bouillon cube
- 2 to 4 cups of leftover chopped or shredded cooked turkey meat (don't use any of the meat from making the stock, the goodness will have been cooked out of it by then)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 to 8 ounces of egg noodles OR 1/2 to 1 cup dry rice (optional, skip egg noodles for gluten-free version)
Making the Turkey Stock
1 Remove all the usable turkey meat from the turkey carcass to save for making sandwiches later or for adding to the soup once the stock is made.
2 Put turkey carcass, vegetables, drippings in large pot, cover with water: If you are working with a large turkey carcass, you may want to break up the bones a bit so they fit better in the pot. Place the turkey carcass, neck (if you haven't cooked it with the turkey), leftover skin and bones from dinner, into a large stock pot (at least 8 quart or 12 quart depending on the size of the turkey), and cover with COLD water by an inch.
Add any drippings that weren't used to make gravy, and any giblets (not the liver) that haven't been used already. Add thickly sliced onion, some chopped carrots, celery and celery tops, parsley, thyme, a bay leaf, and some peppercorns to the pot.
3 Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, skim foam: Bring to a boil on high heat and then lower the heat to keep the stock to a bare simmer. Skim off any foamy crud that may float to the surface of the stock.
(Note in the photo that even though the stock is at a bare simmer, it looks like it is boiling because of the foam that is beginning to come to the surface.)
4 Add salt and pepper to the pot, about 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper. It sort of depends on how big your turkey is. You can always add salt to the soup later.
5 Cook for at least 4 hours, partially uncovered, occasionally skimming off any foam that comes to the surface.
6 Strain the stock: After 4 hours of a low simmer, use tongs, a spider ladle, or a large slotted spoon to remove the bones and vegetables from the pot. Then strain the stock through a fine mesh sieve or strainer.
If you have a strainer but it isn't a fine mesh strainer, you can line it with cheesecloth or with several layers of dampened paper towels and strain the stock through that.
7 Reduce the stock: If making stock for future use in soup you may want to reduce the stock by cooking it longer, uncovered, to make it more concentrated and easier to store.
(We usually do this step at a rolling boil, and reduce the stock by at least half. When you boil stock it will make it cloudy, but the taste is great so we don't care. If you want to reduce stock and keep it relatively clear, you'll need to do that slowly and a bare simmer, and it will take much longer.)
Makes 3 to 4 quarts or more of stock, depending on the size of the turkey carcass, and how much water you added to cover it.
Making the Turkey Soup
Prepare the turkey soup much as you would a chicken soup.
1 Sauté carrots, onions, celery in a large pot: In a large soup pot, heat some butter or olive oil (or turkey fat rendered from the stock) on medium high heat. Add chopped carrots, onions, and celery in equal parts (about a cup each). Cook until the onions are softened, about 10 minutes.
2 Add garlic, stock, parsley, seasonings: Add a couple cloves of garlic, chopped, and cook for a minute more, until the garlic is fragrant. Then add the stock to the pot. Add some parsley and seasoning—salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, sage, thyme, marjoram, and/or a bouillon cube.
3 Bring to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are cooked through (5 to 10 min).
4 Add turkey meat, noodles: Add noodles, rice, or even leftover mashed potatoes (skip all of these if you are cooking low-carb). If adding noodles, cook for 4 minutes. If adding rice, cook for 15 minutes.
Take some of the remaining turkey meat you reserved earlier, shred it into bite sized pieces and add it to the soup. Cook for 1 more minute to warm the turkey meat.
You may also want to add some chopped tomatoes, either fresh or canned. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sometimes a dash or two of Tabasco gives the soup a nice little kick.
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