I am a Thanksgiving fanatic. I always head to my childhood home the Tuesday before Thanksgiving to get my turkey in my homemade brine for at least 36-48 hours. I have turkey anxiety every year. I’ve always found it very stressful – I want it to be PERFECT! – and for that reason I only do it once a year. Every year my friend Dana asks me if I made turkey soup and every year the answer is “NO!” By that point I am So. Over. Turkey. and I throw away the carcass and now I realize how stupid/wasteful/short-sighted that is.
So here we are insolation and my husband wants homemade Matzo Ball soup so I send his Father to the market and guess what? No chicken. So he improvises – and brings home a FROZEN turkey. I’m a big believer in rolling with the punches, especially in the kitchen, so turkey time it was. Aside from the fact it was frozen, I’ve always brined my turkey, slathered butter under it’s skin, stuffed it with delicious stuffing etc. None of that was going to happen – and it was SHOCKINGLY OK, some (my 6 year old) may even say it was great. While we enjoyed turkey that evening for dinner, it the following day’s turkey soup was the STAR of the show!
SHOPPING LIST: turkey, adobo seasoning, carrots, celery, onion, olive oil, fresh dill, fresh parsley, salt, pepper
Hopefully you are starting with a raw turkey. Remember: this turkey’s main purpose is for the soup – so we’re not going to go crazy here. Season every inch of your turkey with Adobo seasoning, salt and black pepper. Get inside the body with those seasonings too. Peel and chop 6 carrots. Slice 8 stalks of celery. Chop 2 onions into quarters. Layer the vegetables at the bottom of your baking dish. Put your heavily seasoned turkey on top (along with the turkey neck!). Cover the turkey with a loose tent of tin foil and roast (depending on the weight of your turkey) – at 375 degrees for 6 hours – or just rely on the automatic pop-up timer that comes with most turkeys now. **At this point, I strained the pan drippings from underneath my turkey and simmered it in a sauce pan to make a jus to serve with the turkey. MAKE SURE to reserve some of your turkey meat to re-purpose in your turkey soup.**
Once your remove all the turkey from the bones, you might have to break your turkey carcass in half to fit it into your pot. Since we are starting this soup with a cooked turkey – I chose to sauté my vegetables first – this is called making a “brown” stock. For the soup, peel and chop 6 carrots and chop 6 stalks of celery. Add 2 tB. of olive oil to a large pot and sauté your carrots and celery over medium heat. Seasons your carrots and celery with salt and pepper. When your vegetables are softened, add your turkey bones and roasted neck and a whole white onion, sliced in half. Fill your pot to the top with water and bring to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, use a shallow spoon to skim any fat off the top of your pot. Reduce your pot to a simmer and then cover. I cooked mine for 4-5 hours over medium heat. One hour before serving, add one bunch of parsley and one bunch of dill and allow to simmer for the final hour with the herbs.
When you are ready to serve your delicious turkey soup, use a slotted spoon to remove the herbs, both halves of onion, and all of the turkey bones. If you want to be a champion – pick all of the meat out of your turkey neck and the carcass. Once your soup is just a beautiful stock with carrots and celery, you can re-add the pulled turkey meat from the soup-making process and any remaining chopped turkey meat you had leftover from your roasted turkey. I also like to chop some of the cooked dill and re-add it to my soup but I know dill is a polarizing herb so this is totally optional.
I served my turkey soup with Matzo Balls – which are a big hit around my household – and which I historically make following the instructions on the back of the Manischevitz box. My thoughts? I had never made turkey stock before. Even when I cook my chicken stock overnight, I always end up using some sort of seasoning to make the chicken flavor pop – whether it’s just salt or Better Than Bouillon. This turkey soup, because it was made with pre-seasoned and roasted turkey bones, and because the vegetables were sautéed before the stock was begun, truly resulted in the most robust and flavorful soup that I’ve always made. As usual, Dana was right.