Turkey Soup

I hope you didn’t throw away your Thanksgiving turkey carcass!  I didn’t have the energy to make turkey soup this past weekend, but my turkey carcass is split in two and safely stored in my freezer.  The grand finale to our Thanksgiving dinner after traditional leftovers which, of course, includes a repeat of the holiday meal, followed by turkey stuffing sandwiches, and turkey tacos, is a huge pot of turkey soup.  And I do mean huge!

You will need a very large stockpot (minimum of 8 quarts) which will be put to good use.  I have a 12-quart stockpot which easily holds half the carcass of a 20-lb. turkey.  After all the turkey has been taken off the bird, I get out my cleaver and kitchen shears and whack and cut away until I get pieces that will fit in my pot.  I freeze the remaining half of the carcass to make another pot of soup which is so enjoyable when the weather turns freezing.

Your kitchen will smell really great as that big pot of soup simmers away.  I’m making my soup this weekend and looking forward to some really delicious soup for lunch at work next week.  How about you?

One year ago:  Old-fashioned Butter Cookies (Roll-out Sugar Cookies)

Turkey Soup

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  • Half the carcass of your Thanksgiving turkey
  • Enough water to just about cover the turkey (quantity depends on the size of your pot)
  • 1 or 2 large onions, chopped
  • 5 or 6 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 1 lb. carrots, chopped
  • 8 to 10 whole peppercorns
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh addition of whatever vegetables you prefer (e.g., carrots, celery, green beans)
  • Leftover turkey, diced – amount depends on how much you have left over!
  • Small-shaped pasta, cooked separately, optional
  • Romano cheese, for serving


For all you seasoned cooks, you probably don’t need any instructions on how to make a turkey (or chicken) stock—but, for any beginning cooks, this will set you on the right track.  As I tell my kids, this is more of a technique than an actual recipe because you need to know how to reduce the liquid to concentrate the flavors.  The amount of water you start off with really depends on how big a pan you have.  Then you just keep simmering the liquid until you get a nice flavorful stock.  As for vegetables, you get to throw in whatever you want—after the basic onions and celery, that is.

So—to start your soup, cut or break your turkey carcass into small enough pieces to fit into a very large stockpot.  I would use an 8-quart stockpot at minimum.  Put in enough water to just about cover the carcass and bring it to a boil.  Add the onion, celery, carrots, peppercorns, and salt to taste.  Once the water boils, lower the heat to keep it at a medium boil or lively simmer.

As the liquid reduces, more of the bones will be exposed—don’t worry about it.  While the soup is boiling, it will create a somewhat gray or brown froth at the sides of the pot.  Skim this to remove it from the soup.  This will keep your broth clear—however, if your turkey was stuffed, it won’t create as clear a broth as an unstuffed one.  It will be just as tasty, though.

When the stock has reduced to a flavorful broth, strain the broth into a very large bowl.  Discard the bones and cooked vegetables.  I always discard the vegetables because they get too oily; they have served their purpose by flavoring the broth.  When the broth is cool enough, refrigerate it overnight.  You will need to do this so that the fat will rise to the surface, and you can easily remove it the next day.

Once the fat has solidified on the surface of the broth, remove and discard it.  You can now bring the broth back to a boil and add whatever fresh vegetables you would like at this time.  I always add fresh carrots and celery.  You should, of course, have saved some turkey for the soup which you should dice and add.  In addition, I like to add some small-shaped pasta such as tubetti or chili mac.  I always cook the pasta separately and keep it separate, adding it to the individual bowls rather than the pot.  Pasta will inevitably get mushy if added to the pot.

Serve with Romano cheese and enjoy.

Fran’s Notes

If you’re a beginning cook, you may be wondering how long you should simmer the liquid in order to make a flavorful broth.  I always simmer mine for at least a minimum of two hours.  The length of time will vary depending on how much water you start off with, the rate at which the liquid evaporates (will depend on how lively you have it simmering), and how strong you want the flavor of your broth to be.  Trust me—you can’t mess this up.  If the broth isn’t as flavorful as you’d like it, keep simmering!  If it ends up tasting too strong, add more water!  🙂

p.s.  In case you’re wondering, the photos are from last year’s turkey soup which I never got around to posting!

Source:   A frantastic original (although ingredients and technique are quite common!)

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