"Reclaiming Homemade in a Small Space"

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Jenny and the Giant Turkey - Chapter Three: SOUP!

Mmmmmm.....our second meal from the turkey, turkey noodle soup.  As it has snowed all day here in Pittsburgh, soup sounds wonderful.  With a rich broth, yummy veggies and noodles, what is not to love?  Remember the turkey wings, back and neck from when I butchered my mammoth bird?  The drumettes from the turkey wings were as large as a chicken leg!  Combined with the other pieces, there was plenty of meat left to make a good pot of soup. These pieces didn't make it onto the smoker...they ended up in the soup pot!

I almost never use a recipe when I make soup.  It is one of those foods that I prepare that remind me a lot of my musical background.  Soup (along with salads and quiche) is like improv.   12-bar blues is done by countless blues musicians again and again. Think "Johnny B. Goode" or "Come On" by Jimi Hendrix, "Pride and Joy" by SRV; these are all well known examples of 12 bar blues.  This method or formula was laid down by W.C. Handy over a century ago, so many songs hang on this simple way of writing music.  Other musicians come along and put their own spin on the formula.  B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Ray Charles...they all used it. When you hear it, you think, "That's the blues."  Same with cooking.  Like the 12 bar blues, there is a method that is used in soup making, but the whats and hows of a particular pot of soup is up to you!  You are the composer.  When you sample your creation, you think, "This is soup!"  I love throwing this and that in my Dutch oven and seeing what comes out!

The first thing you do in soup making is make a broth, whether it is chicken, or beef or in our case turkey. Broth is make by taking bones with meat on them and cooking them with some veggies and herbs to make a flavorful soup base.  Cooking for a long time brings out the richness of the meat and pulls flavor from the bones.  After you have a good broth, you can add whatever veggies you like.  You can add a starch like potatoes, rice or noodles.  Its your improv, you're the soup composer.  Rock on!

As soon as I butchered the turkey, I put the neck, the two wings and the back in my Dutch oven and covered with water.  They just barely fit.
Turkey pieces in my pot before I added enough water to cover.
I added two bay leaves, 2 T. of black peppercorns, probably 2 t. of salt and 2 cloves of smashed garlic.  This mimicked the flavor I put in the brine.  Also, added to the broth were coarsely chopped 1/2 an onion, 2 carrots and 2 stalks celery with their leaves.
Bring to a boil over medium heat, then lower the heat to keep a steady simmer.  Leave this on the stove for at least 4 hours, longer if possible. I think mine simmered for 6 to 7 hours this time.  The veggies here are going to get strained out of the broth, so don't worry that they are going to get soggy and smushy.  They are there to enhance the flavor of your broth.  After the several hour simmer, pull out the turkey pieces and let them cool. Strain this delicious liquid, toss the veg and other floaties and set aside the broth for the soup.  (This is also how I make my chicken broth....just as delicious!) I got about 12 c. of broth from this batch.  There will be a fair amount of fat that rises to the top of the broth, try to skim as much of that off as you can.

I recognize that not everyone has the time to make a broth like this.  If you have to, a store-bought broth is fine. I have some in my fridge right now as a matter of fact.  You should give this method a try at least once, you might find it isn't as time consuming as you thought.

Also, what if you didn't cut up your turkey?  This same method can be done with the cooked bones from a whole,roasted turkey.  Just don't use bones that have been gnawed on.  ;)

After the pieces of turkey have cooled, it is time to removed the meat.  From the neck, wings and back, I got about four cups of turkey.  I used 3 cups for the soup.  You could use all of it if you want!

Turkey noodle soup:
8 to 10 c. turkey broth
3 c. turkey
1 T. oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
4 to 5 carrots, chopped
3 to 4 celery stalks, chopped
1 1/2 c. egg noodles

In a  Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat.  Add the onions, carrots and celery and cook for 8 minutes.  The onions should have taken on some color and the carrots and celery should have softened.

Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Now, add 8 to 10 cups of that yummy broth you made earlier.  Let this simmer on medium low heat for about 45 minutes.  Add your egg noodles and cook for 8 minutes.

Add the turkey last, just taking the time to warm it up.  Enjoy!


  1. It really is yummy! I hope you get the chance to try it.