December 3, 2013 by Jason Rice MD
So, since I didn’t cook for Thanksgiving this year, I didn’t have a post on roasting a turkey making stuffing or any of the other various holiday staples that typically make an appearance this time of year.
But, no matter who does the cooking, the true hallmark of every Thanksgiving is turkey. Specifically, leftover turkey, and frequently these leftovers are the parts no one wanted at the big meal. In our family, I’m typically the only one who goes after the dark meat, and I favor the thighs. The white meat goes quickly, and the leftovers often consist of little more than wings…
These pieces tend to have a lot of connective tissue, skin, fat and bone. This makes the meat difficult to effectively extract for a sandwich. However, the slow simmering when making a soup is the ideal method for pulling as much meat and flavor out of these pieces as possible. A slow cooker can reduce these wings and legs to bare bones as efficiently as a piranha and leave you with a hearty, flavorful soup.
The vegetables and seasoning you add to the soup are entirely up to you. I chose vegetables that I think complement the flavor of the turkey. I attempted to evoke some of the flavors I use when making stuffing as well as root vegetables that I would typically serve alongside my turkey. This isn’t the stuffing and cranberry sauce leftover sandwich, but I still wanted to give it a bit of a Thanksgiving flavor beyond just using turkey in the soup.
- Leftover Turkey, accessible meat removed and cubed (see procedure)
- 4-6 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 2 shallots, minced
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced
- 12 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 2-3 leeks, light green and white portions only, chopped and rinsed
- 1 lb parsnips, peeled and sliced
- 1 lb carrots, peeled and sliced
- 32 oz unsalted chicken stock
- 16 oz vegetable stock
- 2-3 shakes of worchestershire sauce
- 2-3 shakes of hot sauce (I use Frank’s Red Hot)
- Fresh ground black pepper to taste
As I said above, the meat will cook itself right off the bone when you make this soup. However, I like having some of the meat nicely trimmed off before I start. Without wasting too much time, pull or trim off any easily accessible meat from the bones and cut it into cubes.
Keep the bones with the skin and remaining meat intact. Place the bones in the bottom of your slow cooker.
Add the cubed turkey meat to the pot, as well.
Add the vegetables and seasonings. Cover with the chicken and vegetables stocks. (Note: You can certainly use turkey stock in place of the chicken stock, but the unsalted chicken stock has a very neutral flavor that will be more than adequately flavored by the turkey meat and bones. I think the turkey stock would be overkill.) The vegetable stock is optional, but it was what I had in the house. You could just as easily double the chicken stock. You could use all vegetable stock as well.
As with any soup, you don’t need the stock to completely cover everything especially when you consider the vegetables will float. The steam that collects above the soup will cook any veggies hovering above the broth. I do suggest stirring a few times while the soup simmers, but if you aren’t home while it’s cooking, it will turn out just fine even without the stirring.
Because the meat is already cooked, the cooking time is fairly flexible with this soup. I would suggest a minimum of four hours on low, more if you have the time. I cooked mine for about six and a half hours on low, mostly based on the target time I wanted the soup to be ready, and it was plenty of time to fully develop the flavors, thoroughly cook all of the veggies and pull every bit of deliciousness off the turkey bones.
Serve with a piece of good bread or a roll, a leftover crescent roll would be perfect. If you’re really ambitious, you can make this after guests leave on Thanksgiving night so that you have a hassle free meal ready to warm up the next day. Whenever you make it, it’s a hearty and delicious meal, perfect for lounging around on a post-holiday weekend. Enjoy!