We have a post Thanksgiving tradition that wouldn’t be the same without Turkey Soup. It started with my mother-in-law, Anka, and I’m happy to carry the tradition forward. As much a tradition as Thanksgiving itself, the day after offers a casual, comfortable respite for anyone who couldn’t attend the day prior. So many of us find ourselves having to be two places for the holidays, this tradition frees people up to slow down a bit and spread out their time with family.
Another tradition for our family is that my husband’s brother, Steve flies in from Munich each year for his two-week fix of Americana. Born in the states, he left for boarding school at 13 and has lived in Europe ever since. More “American” than any of his siblings, he can simultaneously watch football, read the San Diego Union-Tribune sports page and listen to sports radio. We talk European and American politics, he mixes drinks and tells us about the babies he’s delivered and we all give him a hard time about his creative tri-lingual translations.
The great thing about holidays, is that traditions are something you can deliberately initiate, or they can simply happen on their own. Before coming to this country, my in-laws spent five years in a British refugee camp. Nothing was wasted, not even a button or a piece of string. So I have every confidence that our tradition of turkey soup was borne of Anka’s reluctance to throw away a perfectly good turkey carcass that could be transformed into a nourishing and delicious soup for her family. This holiday season, start a new tradition or simply take a moment to appreciate the ones that have emerged along the way.
Prep time: 25 minutes
Total time: 4 hours
Yield: 8–10 servings
1 turkey carcass
4 large carrots, cut into thirds
6 stalks of celery, cut into thirds
2 large yellow onions, skin removed, cut in half
2 whole garlic cloves, skin removed
4 bay leaves
2 tsp. salt
15 whole peppercorns
10–12 c. water depending on the size of your turkey
6–7 c. leftover turkey meat, shredded into bite-sized pieces
3 T olive oil, divided
3 large carrots, chopped (about 3 cups)
8 stalks celery, chopped (about 3 cups)
2 medium yellow onions, chopped (about 3 cups)
1–2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
2 tsp. Hungarian paprika (omit for nightshade allergy)
10–12 c. turkey broth
4 scallions, thinly sliced on a diagonal
- Cover turkey carcass with water and add onions, carrots, celery, bay leaves, peppercorns and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce and simmer for 3 1/2 hours, skimming the fat from the top of the pot.
- Remove carcass with tongs, then pour stock through a fine sieve (or wet cheese cloth) and discard solids.
NOTE: I typically make my stock the night before so that once it cools, I put it in the fridge overnight, then scrap off the solid cold fat that has separated to the top. If you make stock the same day you use it in soup, a short cut to remove the fat from the stock is to cool it in batches in shallow containers like casserole dishes, then pour through a 4 cup fat separator. (Useful in a variety of dishes, turkey stock can be substituted for chicken broth, or frozen for up to 3 months in plastic containers).
- Heat oil in large stock pot. Add carrots, celery and onions and saute until translucent and soft, about 8 minutes.
- Add half of the salt, pepper and paprika and stir.
- Add stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add meat and remaining seasonings. Heat through and taste and adjust for seasonings.
- When ready to serve, ladle into bowls and top with a sprinkling of scallions.