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Making the Most of Your Turkey: Traci’s Turkey Soup from Scratch

Alexandra Grablewski- Getty Images

Think once you’ve carved your turkey that’s the end of that? Not so fast! Did you know you can make soup to last the winter by using the turkey carcass instead of just tossing it?  That’s what I do every Thanksgiving.  I take what’s left of the turkey carcass and make a delicious turkey soup that I freeze and pull out on super cold winter days. The first step is to make the stock, which you can get started on right after dinner and the smell will linger through the house.

Step 1 Remove all the usable turkey meat from the turkey carcass for adding to the soup if you like really meaty soup.  If you don’t like your soup to be super meaty, then save the meat for sandwiches or casseroles.  You can also freeze the leftover meat, but before you pop it in the freezer, make sure you add a little broth so that when you defrost, the broth will seep into the turkey making it nice and juicy.

Step 2 Place the turkey carcass in a huge pot (I use a lobster pot) and cover with cold water so that the carcass is just about completely covered.  Add any drippings that weren’t used to make gravy.  I also like to add tons of veggies.  I’m not a big potato fan, but you can add chunks of potatoes if you’d like.  I also add chunks of onions, carrots and celery.  Be sure to add in some fresh parsley too. That’s the secret ingredient that gives the soup a delicious taste.

Step 3 Bring to a boil.  Once the pot is boiling, reduce the head to a simmer. Skim off any of the foamy stuff that floats to the surface, but be sure not to scoop out any of the veggies.

Step 4 Cook on simmer for at least 4 hours, uncovered so the stock reduces.

Step 5 Remove the bones and veggies and strain the stock through a very fine mesh strainer.  I almost always strain the liquid into another big pot and then once the carcass has cooled, use my hands to pick out any bones. This is a little time consuming because if you cook the carcass correctly, it should fall to pieces.  You really need to be careful to pull out EVERY bone. There’s nothing worse than sitting down to a nice bowl of soup and biting down on a forgotten bone.

Step 6 Once all the bones are picked out, return the broth and veggies to the same large pot you used to make the broth.  Then add in the leftover meat you pulled off in step 1 and cook on a low simmer until the soup is warmed all the way through.  Or, if you’re not planning to eat the soup right away, you don’t need to warm it up.  Just divide it into freezable containers and throw into the freezer to eat on a day when it’s really cold or you’re feeling sick and need a little bit of comfort food.

Step 7 Whatever you do- DO NOT add noodles or rice and then freeze.  I made this mistake and ended up with mush.  If you want noodles or rice in your soup, cook them and then add them to your soup when you’re ready to eat it.

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