I have a confession to make. Though I claim to be a foodie, or at least someone who knows a decent amount about food (and even more about enjoying eating it) I have to confess that I did not know that you made turkey soup from the carcass of the animal. As people who know me, and people who read this blog know, I have no shame when it comes to eating such controversial dishes such as foie gras, however, the thought of boiling a turkey carcass for two hours in order to create my first turkey soup has turned out to be more challenging than expected.
When my parents suggested to me to refrigerate the carcass after our fabulous thanksgiving meal, I agreed quickly without thinking about what that would actually entail. Yesterday when I took out the turkey out of the freezer, it somehow clicked that I would actually have to interact with the full carcass in order to prepare the meal. Again, I am not squeamish when it comes to food, but for some reason, animals in their full bodily form gross me out. I still cannot eat rabbit without picturing their poor skinned bodies hung up in poppy’s basement, images that have scarred me since the age of seven.
However, I decided not to let the potential of good comfort food go to waste, so as my sister Maggie says, I got my guts up and started to prepare the soup. Obviously, I did not know how to make the soup, but between vague recollections of my nanny’s turkey soup and various recipes on the internet (including Michael Chiarello’s here and Real Mom Kitchen’s here) I was able to create my own recipe. This is actually the first recipe that I have ever created and bothered to write down, so this is a big deal!
Here are the ingredients that I used:
For the broth:
1 Turkey carcass (even writing that sentence still makes me go blah)
2 900ml cartons of chicken stock
1 onion, quartered
1 carrot, quartered
1 teaspoon of savory (if you are not from Newfoundland and don’t know what this is, look it up here. There are also alternatives, like bay leaves)
For the soup:
A splash of olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 onion, diced
2-3 carrots, diced
1 small turnip (or half a large one, which is what I used), diced
5-6 mushrooms diced, equalling about one cup
2 cups of egg noodles already partially cooked
2 cups of leftover turkey portions, small enough to be scooped in a soup spoon
another teaspoon of savory, to taste, plus salt and pepper
The first step is to make the broth: put the carcass and the cartons of chicken stock into a big pot with the quartered onion, quartered carrot, the savory, salt and pepper. Next is a very simple step: bring broth to a boil, then reduce temperature to low and let it simmer for about an hour to an hour and a half. I went back every ten minutes or so to give it a stir and to make sure it was not boiling over; for some reason I have the hottest stove in the world, even when its on low.
It was already smelling and looking delicious by the time the hour and a half was up. The remnants of the turkey stuffing that had stuck inside the turkey had really added some flavour and this is when I really started to warm up to the idea of carcass comfort food!
Next, strain the broth into a big bowl and set it aside. Some recipes online called for an ice bath, but I didn’t have another bowl bigger than the one I was using, and it did not feel overly important, so I skipped that!
Once the broth has been strained, put the pot back on the stove and toss in the splash of olive oil with the garlic. Then throw in the rest of the vegetables and let them brown a little before pouring the broth back into the pot and bringing all the ingredients to a boil.
After lowering the temperature and letting the soup simmer for about half an hour, I put in the 2 cups of turkey bits and the 2 cups of egg noodles. I made the decision to delay the addition of the turkey and the noodles because I think that it is important not to have the noodles over cooked. One thing that I never liked about the typical “grandma’s turkey soup,” is that the noodles were always over cooked and mushy. Once the noodles and turkey are in the soup, add more salt and pepper to taste, and more savory if you feel the need, then let it simmer for at least half an hour before eating it to make sure the noodles finish cooking all the way.
I was so excited for Adam and I to try my first attempt at turkey soup that I pretty much sat him down with a bowl the minute he walked in the door last night. We both thoroughly enjoyed it and I was delighted at my first try!
The cost of this meal was very inexpensive. The turkey was essentially free because it was leftover, and the remaining ingredients were things I already had in the house, probably totalling a cost of 15$. Next time I am going to try and spice things up, maybe add some heat to it with hot peppers, or add some raisins to really give it the leftover thanksgiving feel. Other tips that I read about online that might be helpful to other cooks are that some people put stuffing in their soup. This sounds weird, but I think that the extra juices from the butter and raisins, or whatever you put in the stuffing, would really add a nice flavour to your soup. Unfortunately I was not lucky enough to have any of my mom’s delicious stuffing left over (womp, womp). Other recipes that I read did not use stock, but used water and then added some of their leftover gravy for flavour.
Overall, I really enjoyed the experience, and though it does take long, I simply danced around my house to some Robyn in the long interludes when the soup needed to simmer. I would suggest doing this kind of cooking on the weekend, or when you can really devote some time to it, because it does need to be attended to, and you need to keep testing the soup to add more savory, salt, or make other adjustments. This the first time that I have actually written down a recipe, and I hope that it will be helpful to other idiots who did not know that turkey soup was made from leftover Thanksgiving turkey carcass. I was very happy to test it out and will continue to Explore. Eat. Repeat. having conquered my fear of cooking with fully body animal carcasses. Happy cooking fellow carnivores!