My in-laws have a tradition of making a huge pot of turkey soup the day after Thanksgiving. It’s a great way to use every last bit of the bird, and you’ll have enough to freeze several batches to enjoy throughout the winter months. Our kids love Nonno’s turkey soup!
In addition to using up leftover turkey, you’ll also use up any leftover vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, green beans, potatoes, yams, butternut squash, corn, or whatever else was served with the turkey. You can even stir in leftover stuffing for a thicker soup.
The main time-consuming part is boiling the turkey bones to create rich stock. Boiling the bones for hours may seem daunting, but it’s the only way to get that true depth of flavor that you simply can’t get out of a box or can. It’s worth it, I promise! And especially after all the gorging on Thanksgiving day, it’s nice to balance it out with a light meal of turkey soup and fresh salad.
So while you’re recovering from Thanksgiving food coma, put a pot of turkey soup on the stove while you relax on the couch or get an early start on holiday decorating. I hope you enjoy my After Thanksgiving Turkey Soup recipe.
- 1 leftover turkey carcass
- 4 qts (16 cups) water or chicken broth
- 1 pkg Poultry Blend, or any blend of rosemary, thyme, sage or sage, tied together with twine
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 pkg Mirepoix (or chop up 1 onion, 3 carrots, and 2 ribs of celery)
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed, or 3 cubes frozen Crushed Garlic
- 1/2 cup uncooked wild rice, brown rice, barley, or other grains
- 4 cups leftover vegetables, cut into bite size pieces (such as Brussels sprouts, potatoes, yams, green beans, butternut squash)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Break turkey carcass into pieces so that it fits in a large pot or Dutch oven. Cover with water or broth. Using broth will yield a richer tasting soup. I used half water, half broth. Add herbs and bring to a boil. If you don’t have fresh herbs, you can use 1 tsp each of dried herbs. If you are using just water, add 1 tsp salt. When water is boiling, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 2 hours.
- Optional step: you can refrigerate the broth, which makes any fat in the broth rise to the surface, for easy removal with a spoon. I found that I didn’t have much fat at all, since I didn’t throw in any skin with the carcass. However, if you want to make sure every last bit of fat is removed, you can take this step. I did do this with the juices that came out of the turkey while roasting, and after removing the fat, added the fat-free juices to the pot for the soup.
- Remove carcass using a slotted spoon or tongs. Allow to cool. While carcass is cooling, add Mirepoix and rice to the soup and continue cooking. If you’re using raw vegetables instead of leftovers, you can add them to the soup at this point. Pick meat off carcass and tear into bite size pieces. You’ll have about 3-4 cups of meat. If you don’t, and want more, you can add leftover turkey meat. Add this meat into the soup and continue cooking about 45 minutes longer.
- Add cooked leftover vegetables and simmer for 10-15 minutes until heated through. You can even stir in leftover stuffing for a thicker soup. Remove from heat and add salt and pepper to taste.
If freezing, allow soup to cool completely before placing into containers or Ziploc bags for freezing. Variation: For an Italian turkey soup, use red peppers and zucchini for the vegetables, add some beans, and use pasta instead of rice (add the pasta during the last 10 minutes of cooking so it doesn’t overcook).