People have gone home. Our memories of a fine dinner with people we care about linger, while the evidence has been scooped into plastic containers and refrigerated. Re-purpose what is left into hot and hearty soup, as fast as you can, before they over-stay their visit and resentment sets in!
Thanksgiving leftover soup is not a recipe that can be measured. This is a soup we prepare by sight and feel which does not require an additional trip to the store. I am taking for granted that most of you had a traditional turkey dinner. If you have not — my apologies. Your dinner was lovely, no doubt, and I would love to hear about your own leftover soup. For those who did the typical thing, you know that no two soups made from leftovers will taste the same but each design will be familiar, hot and easy to prepare.
Let’s start with uncooked vegetables. If you are in possession of uneaten crudités, boy are you in luck! Vegetable trays are a gift that keeps on giving. Peppers (red and green), carrots, celery — all of the usual suspects — we can use these. If you have a spicy habanero handy (mine are in the freezer), mince it. Chop an onion, mince some garlic and sauté your vegetables in butter and oil until tender.
Do you have any leftover broth? Maybe it’s fresh, or maybe in cans? Use that along with any chicken stock you have — enough for one or two quarts. Add a can of tomatoes, leftover fried corn (or whatever corn you have canned or frozen), because everything must go!
Move on to a few peeled and diced potatoes, and leftover squash. Squash is a must! Blended squash, or fresh squash (peeled and cubed), adds sweetness and depth. Roasted root vegetables like parsnips, turnips and rutabagas? Perfect. Add some or all of these to the pot. Season with bay leaves, thyme, sage, parsley (and whatever else you like). Pepper flakes? Yes, do it. A squirt of citrus juice is a great idea, too, or even a shot of apple cider.
Bring this to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to simmering. Cook for about 40 minutes, until the vegetables are tender, and stir occasionally.
Shred some turkey meat. Anything between two or three cups should be plenty enough. Eyeball it and see what you think, one hand full at a time.
I also use broiled turkey skin in my soup (and on sandwiches). It’s a salty, greasy flavor bomb. Broil strips of turkey skin, sprinkled generously with kosher salt and ground pepper. Using a sheet of foil, use a few drips of olive oil and place under a medium broiler. Keep turning the skins until they are the same color as crisp bacon. There will be smoke and popping, and that’s normal. I pull the battery out of my smoke detector when broiling turkey skin, and nothing has burned down yet. Drain the skins on paper towels and refrigerate, but only after you have taste tested a least a few pieces. I find they taste best in the dark, by the light of the cracked oven door.
Bring the soup back to boiling, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes more. Add some of that cream or half & half the guests were using, why don’t you? And you know what’s cool about leftover soup? You can freeze it for later because this soup is an ouroboros and it never stops.