I was having a conversation with one of my loyal readers who I’ve developed a lovely relationship online since she read one of my first books and emailed me. It was just after Thanksgiving, and she asked me how it went, and because I was still healing from open-heart surgery, I told her that I cheated and made a Jenny-O turkey loaf instead of a turkey, but that I had some turkey bones in the freezer I was cooking down for soup. She’d never in her life had turkey soup! I grew up on post-holiday turkey soup, and it’s one of my very favorites.
So here I am… I figured I’d give very simple turkey soup recipe, especially with Easter right around the corner and if you’re like my family, you’ll be having a turkey. I make chicken soup the same way after baking a roaster chicken. And sometimes if we have a tasty store-bought rotisserie chicken, I’ll cook that down for soup, too.
We love soup in our house, and I almost always, all winter, have a big pot of soup in the fridge at any given moment. It’s simple to make, and very healthy when homemade. It’s great for a meal or a snack instead of grabbing something filled with empty calories.
After you’ve enjoyed your turkey dinner, take the rest of the meat off the bones. I have a 10 quart stockpot that I put the bones in to cook down. If it’s a big bird, they don’t always all fit, so I’ll put ½ of them in a gallon size Ziploc and store in the freezer for another batch. Another great way to make this if you don’t cook a turkey is to go to just about any butcher shop and get turkey necks. If you do this, you will also get a nice meaty soup, unlike the more broth-like soup from the bones. And, turkey necks are very cheap to buy.
Into the pot I put a fair amount of the skin for extra flavor. I put in some pepper and fill the pot to cover the bones. Put the lid on the pot and set to simmer for about 8 hours on a very low simmer. Usually I leave it overnight. If I’m making this during the day, I’ll have a bit higher boil so it cooks faster. The point is to cook it down thoroughly so that all the flavors from the bones and skin make the broth.
Remove bones from broth, and put in fridge until completely cold. Skim off the solidified fat on the top and put back on the stove and bring to a boil, adding onions, celery, chopped carrots, and whatever other veggies you’d like. Usually I use zucchini and mushrooms, but just about anything will work. Cook until veggies are tender. At the end, if you like noodles, toss in a couple handfuls of egg noodles. I often use Shiritaki noodles, because they are like eating Ramen but have virtually no calories. My mom makes a homemade egg noodle that is to die for, but I’ve yet to perfect them.
If you’ve used necks, there won’t be any fat to skim. When they’ve thoroughly cooked (they will fall apart when you touch them with a spoon when they are done) remove them from the broth and let cool enough until you can touch them. Remove the meat from the bones and put it back into the broth after you’ve cooked the veggies.
Salt and pepper to taste. Sometimes for a little extra flavor, while I’m cooking the bones down, I’ll throw in a teaspoon or two of dried sage or poultry seasoning. This depends on how much you like the “stuffing” flavor of turkey, or the true meaty flavor.