There are so many options for using up leftover turkey after the holidays and one of them is making a turkey soup. However, other options include Turkey Tetrazzini, the turkey, peas, and carrots laden spaghetti casserole with a thick Velouté based sauce all topped with a breadcrumb crust and baked in the oven. On the other hand, how about the popular turkey sandwiches with cranberry or stuffing between thick slices of crusty bread. Moreover, the list goes on….Turkey Pot Pie, Turkey Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich (TLT), Turkey Wraps, Turkey Posole, Turkey and Dumplings, Turkey Empanadas or Turkey Panini.
I have typically made a turkey soup once the turkey sandwich cravings subside, or about two to three days after the big holiday meal. That is just what happened again this time around with the remaining turkey meat and carcass of bones. First, the major portion of the attached meat was cut or picked from the bones and reserved, and then the bones were broken down a bit to make them more compact and tossed into a large stockpot. The bones are then covered with cool filtered water to about 2 inches above the top level of the bones, thus the initial step with making a turkey stock. All great soups and sauces for that matter must start with a flavorful fresh made stock.
Stocks, Soups and Sauces…oh my!
Stocks are one of those curious concoctions that most novice cooks fear and loathe, with a certain mystery surrounding its preparation methods and techniques. In our early apprenticeship days, fellow novice cooks and I were challenged to making a good stock. The litmus test that you had extracted all of the goodness and flavor was determined by how the stock looked the next day, so lessons on patience added to the fascination, more on that later. Another captivation about stocks was that some of them took as long as eight to twelve hours to eke out all of the flavor from the bones, especially in the case of making beef stock. Whether it is beef, chicken, veal, turkey, fish, shrimp, lamb, ham, or vegetable stocks, each one of them has a particular traditional method of preparation, and then there are variations that can be applied to the central scheme. As a sub-division, there can be either brown or blond stocks, with the darker stocks being attributed to roasting the bones and vegetables prior to making the stock. Typically, the vegetables consist of a mirepoix of onions, carrots, and celery. Therefore, how do you know if your stock meets muster with maximizing the flavor extracting potential of the bones and ingredients with which you have simmered for hours on end? Clearness and gelatin!
A few tips to making a good stock include only simmering the liquid and never allowing it to boil, also make sure that the foam and scum that forms at the top is skimmed off periodically, never cover the stockpot when making a stock, and finally, never stir the stock. Boiling or stirring the stock will make it cloudy by distributing all the impurities back into the liquid. Covering the stock will allow moisture buildup on the lid to fall back into the stock, this stirring around, and you want the stock to reduce a bit too, thus concentrating the flavors. Especially if you are making a clear consommé, cloudy stock is a major faux pas. A perfect stock is achieved when all the pure goodness is extracted from the impurities, with the result of a rich flavorful liquid essence. Once a stock has cooled the extracted gelatin will congeal and take the shape of a somewhat solid jelly-like form, this is the result of pulling out the gelatinous portion of the bones and surrounding tissues. It also means that the correct amount of water was added to cover the bones; too much water will result in a thin flavored stock and the gelatin jelly-like structure will be lost. Whole chapters and in fact books have been written on the subject of stocks, and culinary classes typically will include an entire class on Stocks, Soups and Sauces, as I mentioned before, you cannot have a great sauce or soup without a great stock. Stocks are quite literally, the essence of flavor.
Back to the turkey stock preparation, once the bones were covered with water I set the stockpot on the burner and set the flame to a medium-high. Once the liquid came to a simmer, I reduced the heat to a low flame setting. The stock simmered uncovered for about 6 hours, skimming the foam and scum periodically and adjusting the flame if it was simmering too much. A low slow simmer is all your want, just to ensure that there is a nice little bubbling of liquid is all you need. After the 6 hours I chilled the stock by placing the stockpot into an ice bath set up in the kitchen sink, this allows for a quick cooling so that the stock can be put into the refrigerator to chill overnight. I kept the bones in the stockpot at this point; however straining the stock at this point is a typical step. I wanted to let the bones continue to add flavor to the stock as it chilled. The next day I removed any fat that had settled to the top of the congealed stock and then reheated it, and then I strained the stock to remove the bones and any other impurities. Typically, stocks are strained with a fine chinois (also known as a China Cap) or strainer with a lining of cheesecloth or filter paper. Straining of stocks is much easier when they are hot, cold stocks do not strain very well.
This recipe was based on an original turkey that weighted 19.85 pounds; your mileage might vary with the amount of bones and turkey meat left over, so use this recipe as a guideline when considering how big your turkey is when making a similar soup. In addition, the brown rice and peas were leftovers from the holiday meal, which is one of the other benefits of making this soup.
|10||Cups||Turkey meat, diced|
|2||Cups||Brown rice, cooked|
|To taste||Salt and white pepper|
|1.||Place strained turkey stock into stockpot and put over a medium high flame, and add the onions, celery, carrots, and turnips along with all the bay leaves, oregano, parsley, Italian seasonings, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes.|
|2.||Gently stir in the turkey meat, rice, and peas and simmer another 5 to 10 minutes, then season to taste with the salt and white pepper.|