To be perfectly honest, the best way to polish off a mountain of Thanksgiving leftovers is by piling them high on a sloppy, succulent sandwich. You know the drill: A slab of bread lined with butter, cranberry sauce, stuffing, turkey ... maybe a dab of gravy for moisture. No shame in that! But, according to the National Turkey Federation, turkey can go south after just three or four days in the fridge. And not a moment too soon: That's just when those kitchen sink sandwiches start to loose their appeal. But wait—don't throw your turkey baby out with the bath water! Extend the life of your leftovers with a simple stock or soup preparation.
In commercial and home kitchens alike, soups and stocks are regarded as an easy, economical way to use up leftover scraps. "Bah humbug!" you say, "After a week of busting my tail for Thanksgiving, the last thing I want to bother with is a complicated recipe or—ugh—more grocery shopping." Hey, I hear you there. But luckily for you, great soups don't require much work. They also rely on stuff you've already got laying around, like "throw-away" scraps, leftovers and pantry staples. And at temperatures of 165º F or higher, reheating your precooked poultry meat will kill off most of the bacteria it's picked up over the past few days in your refrigerator.
We've got two very different turkey soup recipes here that'll really maximize the return on your holiday bird. One is a light, fresh soup to brighten up your late fall. The other is a creamy chowder that's a real comfort on cold nights.
As an added step, you can recycle your leftover turkey carcass (which includes the neck, back, wings and other bony, meat-poor parts) into a stock that's a rich and cost-effective backbone for the two soups you'll find here, and beyond. If you don't want to bother, skip the stock—a canned, low-salt chicken broth will work just fine.
Rich Turkey Stock
This recipe was developed by the National Turkey Federation. If you want to use the stock immediately after making it, skip step 7 and remove the fat while the stock is still warm. Just let the stock cool until it's no longer steaming-hot, then use a metal spoon or drag a paper towel over the surface of the liquid to collect the fat globules.
2 pounds bony turkey pieces (back, neck and wings), cut into 2- to 3-inch chunks
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 stalks celery with leaves, coarsely chopped
2 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
1 large onion, cut in chunks
4 cloves garlic, peeled
8 cups cold water
3 whole cloves
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1) Pat turkey parts dry with clean paper towels, then discard towels.
2) Over medium-high heat, heat oil in a 5-quart saucepan or Dutch oven. In 2 to 3 batches, brown turkey parts on all sides. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and reserve in a large bowl.
3) Add celery, carrots, onion and garlic to pan and sauté until onion is tender, about 3 to 5 minutes.
4) Return turkey parts to pan. Add water and bring mixture to a boil. Skim foam from surface.
5) Add remaining ingredients. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour, or until turkey pieces are tender.
6) Lift out turkey pieces with a slotted spoon. Strain stock through a sieve lined with 1 or 2 layers of cheesecloth. Discard vegetables and peppercorns.
7) Refrigerate stock. Once completely chilled, remove the solidified fat layer off the top of the stock with a spoon.
8) When turkey is cool enough to handle, remove meat from bones. Discard skin and bones. Reserve meat for future use.
9) Stock may be stored in a closed container in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days, or stored in freezer up to 6 months.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 tablespoon peeled and minced garlic
1/2 cup converted rice
5 to 6 cups turkey stock or low-sodium chicken broth
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (4.5 ounce) can diced green chiles
1/2 to 3/4 cup lime juice, freshly squeezed and deseeded
2 cups cooked and shredded turkey
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste
1) In a 6-quart stockpot heat the oil over medium-high heat and add the onion, celery and garlic. Sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.
2) Add the rice and sauté until nutty and golden-brown, about 5 minutes. Add the stock, undrained tomatoes and chiles.
3) Add lime juice to taste and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until rice is tender.
4) Stir in turkey, corn, cilantro, salt and pepper. Heat through, about 5 minutes. Garnish with cilantro sprigs and lime wedges.
1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups whole milk
1 cup turkey stock or low-sodium chicken broth
2/3 cup condensed cream of potato soup (or any condensed cream-based soup)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
2 1/2 cups diced cooked turkey
Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste
1) Cook bacon in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat until crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain.
2) Pour off all but 2 tablespoons drippings from pan. Increase heat to medium-high, add onions and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.
3) Mix in potatoes, milk, stock, condensed cream of potato soup and 1 tablespoon sage. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
4) Add turkey meat, cooked bacon and remaining 1 tablespoon sage. Simmer until heated through, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.