If you are like most of us, you have a turkey carcass in the freezer ….waiting for you. More often than not, the day after we have enjoyed hosting the grand holiday dinner, the last thing on our to-do list is to ‘make turkey soup’ ….and so, the roasted bones are packaged up and put in the freezer ….’for another day.’
Well, today is the day to get the bag o’ bones out of the freezer and make Turkey and Vegetable Soup. Actually, our behaviour in putting off this task is more adaptive in nature than what we might be calling procrastination, or thinking that we are being just plain lazy. A bowl of savoury turkey soup, served a few weeks after the big event, is met with so much more appreciation and warm reminiscence (rather than… “What? …Turkey again??!!”).
Tips for making a great Turkey Vegetable Soup:
- No need to defrost the frozen carcass …just place it into a large stock pot or Dutch oven and cover it with cold water. It is important that the water totally covers the carcass, so, depending upon the size of the carcass, various bones, and leftover goodies, you may need to have two pots going. Bring the water to a boil (over medium heat) and then reduce the heat to a very low simmer. It is important that the flavours are gently extracted from the bones, rather than forced out. Simmer for about two hours (skim away any foam that may form); strain and cool. … or make soup.
- Your broth will be enhanced if you have also frozen all the trimmings (not bread stuffing) from the roast. I typically stuff our turkey with onions, lemons, and herbs, and so into the stock pot they go as well. A roasted turkey neck is also a perfect stock enhancer. If you don’t have much to add, toss in some black peppercorns, celery seeds, parsley, and thyme. If you still think your broth is a little lackluster and needs a bit of a boost, add a small amount of a high-quality commercial turkey base. Better Than Bouillon and Savory Choice make excellent quality flavour bases (sometimes found with other broths in the soup section; sometimes found in the herb/spice section of the grocery store; always found in a specialty grocery store).
- When you are initially serving the turkey, try to stow away some extra meat in the freezer for the soup – but keep the meat out of the soup until just before serving.
- It is better if the onions, celery, and carrots are sautéed prior to adding the broth.
- Fresh herbs are always the preferred way to go; however, in a soup, anything goes. The flavour of fresh or dried herbs is better preserved when they are added at the end of the cooking process.
- Prepared soup can be frozen for later enjoyment.
- One of my first kitchen mistakes was thinking that I was adding dried parsley (as my mother had always done) to my first attempts at making soup-from-scratch…and then realizing I had instead thrown in copious amounts of tarragon. What a fantastic mistake! Since that time, tarragon …and lots of it …has gone into both my chicken and turkey soups. With its distinct and unique fragrance and flavour, it provides so much to a soup. Fresh tarragon is not always available, so the dried option is easily substituted.
Turkey Vegetable Soup
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 2 hours for broth; 30 minutes for soup
Number of Servings: 8-10
1 ½ tablespoons (25 mL) vegetable or grapeseed oil
1 large onion, medium dice
2 large carrots, medium dice
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced (include the celery tops)
8 cups Turkey broth (see Tips above)
1 ½ cups (375 mL) frozen or fresh corn
1 ½ cups (375 mL) frozen or fresh peas
1 teaspoon (5 mL) chopped or crushed celery seed
1 teaspoon (5 mL) dried sage or 2 tablespoons fresh chopped sage
½ cup (125 mL) chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
½ cup (125 mL) chopped fresh tarragon, or 2 tablespoons of dried
1-2 cups of cooked turkey meat, cut into bite-size pieces
Kosher salt; freshly ground black pepper
Extra tarragon and parsley for garnish
1. In a large soup pot, or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery. Saute until soft and fragrant (do not brown).
2. Add turkey broth to the vegetables, and gently simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
3. Add the corn and peas; heat through until cooked (5 minutes).
4. Add all of the dried and fresh herbs and heat through for an additional 5 minutes.
5. Stir in the turkey meat. Heat through.
6. Adjust the seasonings to taste. Add a little turkey base booster if necessary.
7. Garnish with extra chopped parsley or tarragon, and serve with some fresh bread.