Once-A-Year Turkey Soup

Thanksgiving Leftovers Transformed

Vintage Greeting A girl serving the turkey with wishes for A Peaceful ThanksgivingThanksgiving 2011 is already behind us except for the memories and any leftovers still in the fridge. Though now that we’ve enjoyed those fabulous leftovers for at least a couple of meals, it’s time to get creative with them. What to do?

My solution, and perhaps yours, too, has been to make a very special, never-to-be repeated, Once-A-Year Turkey Soup. It always comes out differently, it’s always delicious, and it’s a most welcome alternative after two days of the Thanksgiving meal.

Hopefully you have saved the turkey carcass or some of the bones. If yes, then begin making a pot of turkey stock from them along with an onion, a couple of carrots, a few stalks of celery, bay leaves and sprigs of fresh thyme. Simmer the stock for 2½ hours then pour it through a fine strainer.

Now you are ready to start cooking the soup. Once the basic veggies are tender, your creativity comes into play. Add gravy, stuffing, shredded or diced turkey, sweet potatoes, cut up green beans, Brussels sprouts, creamed onions, mashed potatoes . . . . everything, actually, but the pumpkin pie or other desserts, whipped cream and marshmallows. Season the soup to taste, and voila, your never-to-be-duplicated-in-exactly-the-same-way Turkey Soup is ready to enjoy.

Once-A-Year Turkey Soup

Note, this photo is only an approximation; your soup will look totally different depending upon what you prepared for Thanksgiving and what leftovers are in your fridge.

Approximately 6-8 servings

The Stock:
Turkey carcass or bones
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
6 whole peppercorns

Place all the ingredients in a large soup pot along with 12 cups of water. Bring the water to a boil then reduce the heat to medium-low so that the stock simmers uncovered for 2½ hours. Strain the stock, discarding the solids.

The Soup:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups ¼-inch dice onion
1 ½ cups 1/3-inch dice celery
1 ½ cups 1/3-inch dice carrots
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon salt
Half a dozen twists freshly ground pepper
4-5 cups of leftovers cut, if necessary, into pieces that will fit on a soupspoon (everything except for marshmallow topping and pumpkin pie or other desserts)
8 cups turkey, chicken or vegetable stock or water
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, sage, rosemary and/or thyme for garnish

Add the oil to a clean pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until they begin to turn golden. Stir in the celery, carrot and garlic. Sprinkle with a large pinch of salt and a few twists of freshly ground pepper and cook together for a few minutes. Add 8 cups of the turkey stock or other liquid. When the soup comes to a boil, cover the pan and lower the heat so the soup simmers.

After the veggies are tender, about 10 minutes, begin stirring in your leftovers beginning with the gravy. Bring the soup to a boil and simmer together for another 10 minutes to blend the flavors. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Serve garnished with chopped fresh herbs.

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