Make a Hot, Savory Turkey Soup for a Cold, Unruly December

The kitchen fire crackled away this morning as I lingered over both a cup of coffee and my plans for this week’s kitchen activities. The cooler weather, along with the root vegetables and cold-weather greens I found at the farm stand, has inspired me to enjoy more stews and soups on my table, and this morning’s planning included how to do just that.

The Thanksgiving celebration also adds to my larder the inevitable treasure of leftovers that I plan to make into one of my favorites—a hearty turkey soup. Not only is homemade turkey soup delicious, but it is, I believe, a great example of how the soup pot is the foundation of a well-run kitchen. I’ll use the soup pot to take full advantage of the farm root crops and greens and the remains of the holiday leftovers to turn all into a nice, hot soup that will soothe my soul and my frugal nature.

The first step, after the celebratory Thanksgiving meal, requires me to make sure all the leftover turkey and any soup-worth vegetables are packed away. The next step is to pick any remaining meat from the turkey carcass and add that to our supply of leftovers. Don’t forget to reserve any pan drippings and/or broth from roasting the turkey, as these can all be used in the soup as well.

I then take the entire carcass and place it in a stockpot with a single onion cut in half, two carrots peeled and cut in half, and one stalk of celery cut in half. I do not take a lot of time preparing these vegetables as I am using them only to flavor the broth and will not be using them in the final soup. Cover the contents of the pot with water, and when this has come to a boil, reduce the heat and allow to simmer for about two to three hours.

When the pot of broth has finished its three-hour simmer on the stovetop, allow it to cool, and strain through a colander to remove the vegetables and turkey carcass. The remaining broth will be a rich and nutritious base for this savory soup.

Now, with the broth completed, we can move on to the actual preparation of the soup. I begin with two onions, four stalks of celery, and four carrots that I clean and chop into bite-size pieces. These vegetables can be sautéed in a preheated soup pot with a little olive oil until just starting to soften. At this time, I add my turkey meat that has been chopped into bite-size pieces, any vegetables left from the holiday celebration, and the farm stand produce, which can include sweet potatoes, chard, spinach, turnips, carrots, and kale. Also, frozen or canned corn is always a welcome addition.

I now add the broth and any saved pan drippings from the roasting of the turkey, and bring the pot to a simmer. At this time, you can add pasta, egg noodles, rice, barley, or lentils to enhance the already flavorful and rustic soup.

I would suggest enjoying a bowl right out of the pot before saving a couple of servings in the refrigerator for later in the week or for lunches and before freezing the rest. This great soup is perfect for dinner by the fireside or for a quick, hot, savory meal that will be required to get you through December’s holiday preparations. 

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