Clean Out the Fridge: Making Turkey Soup From Leftovers
Thanksgiving is almost here so let’s continue thinking about what to do with all those leftovers. You’re most likely finding a lot of information about how to cook a turkey and what to serve with it in your favorite cooking magazines and local newspapers, but let’s talk about what to do with all those leftovers. We already looked at preparing Leftover Thanksgiving Day Turkey Chili so now let’s look at Leftover Thanksgiving Day Soup.
There are two dilemmas that home cooks have around the holidays. One is making room in the refrigerator for the holiday feast. Dilemma two is getting rid of the leftovers after the holiday feast. Fortunately, there is one solution to both of these problems: soup.
If you don’t have any stock lying around before the holidays, make sure you have some good quality chicken or turkey stock from the store. The simplest soup is literally:
- Open your refrigerator
- Take out the leftovers
- Dump them in a pot
- Cover them with stock
Ok, so maybe you need a little more direction than that? Let’s go see what’s leftover in my fridge. Okay, here’s what I have:
- Half a jar of salsa
- 2 limes
- Some leftover roasted chicken
- 2 jalapeno peppers
- Wonton skins
- Peeled cippolini onions
- Sliced lunch meat – roast beef and ham
- Potato scraps in water leftover from squaring a potato for dicing
What’s in the pantry that I can use?
- Dried cranberry beans
- Mini fusilli pasta
- Hot sauce
Sounds like soup to me. I’m thinking some sort of a spin on Tortilla soup. Here’s what I’ll do.
How to Make at Home
- Quarter the onions. Cut the wonton skins in strips; brush with a little oil, sprinkle with salt and brown/crisp in the oven. (If you have a Fry Daddy, go for the deep fry)
- Slice celery and carrots on the bias, then cut jalapenos into small dice.
- Cook the bacon and crumble into small pieces.
- Cut up lunch meat into little pieces.
- Dice potato scraps.
- Heat a pan big enough to hold all this stuff, put in some olive oil and let the oil get hot. Add the carrots, celery, jalapenos and onion and season with salt and pepper.
- Add some chili powder and the salsa and then some chicken broth.
- Put beans in and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the beans get soft. This can take at least 2 hours but you can skip the beans if you don’t have much time or use canned beans if you have them. Add the juice from the limes.
- Add the chicken, lunch meats and potatoes after the beans are soft. If you are using canned beans, add the meats and potatoes with the beans and let everything simmer for about 20 minutes.
- Add a handful of past but not to much or it will soak up all the stock. Continue simmering until the pasta is done to your liking, about 10 minutes.
- Serve in bowls with crumbled bacon and crispy wonton strips on top
Is this a “real” recipe? Well, probably not, but it is real cooking. It’s finding a use for what I have and putting those ingredients together in an appetizing way. Plus, my fridge is now ready for my turkey and big old ham!
The clean-out-the-fridge-after-Thanksgiving soup is even easier. You can make Turkey Chili, or you can stick with soup. If your fridge looks like my fridge after the holidays, there will be:
Turkey – Ham – Peas – Mashed potatoes – Carrots – Roasted sweet potatoes
Stuffing – Green beans – Cranberry sauce
First and foremost, you’ll want to make some stock out of the turkey carcass – that will free up a lot of space. Make a minimalist stock – by just covering it with cold water, adding some salt and peppercorns and letting it simmer for a few hours while you do other things. Once you’ve got your stock, the rest is easy.
- Dice leftover meat
- Mix some stock with the mashed potatoes and some stuffing – this is what will thicken your soup and give it a cream soup texture.
- Add all your leftovers to the pot. They’re already cooked, so you’ll just want them to heat through.
- Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
- Best practice is to chill the soup overnight and then reheat so the flavors will marry, but you can just go ahead and eat it.
If you’d like to do a little more cooking to make your leftover soup, try this.
- Heat your soup pot and add some oil.
- Throw in about a cup or so of stuffing and stir it around until the stuffing starts to brown a little -I make mine with celery and onions, so, instant aromatics!
- Add some stock and about a cup of mashed potatoes. Stir everything around a little more.
- Add the rest of the stock and your other leftovers.
- Add any herbs or spice blends that you want (poultry seasoning is nice for a turkey soup). Don’t be afraid to add the cranberry sauce (maybe 1/2 cup or so) – I think you’ll like it.The sweet-tartness will help to balance all the other rich ingredients.
- Taste it for seasonings and adjust as necessary. Chill overnight and reheat for best flavor.