Turkey Carcass Soup

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Turkey carcass soup

After Thanksgiving, the biggest problem for me, anyway, is what to do with the leftovers. Even when cooking a small turkey, there are always more leftover meat, dressing and gravy than anyone will want, and usually people want to eat something different by the next day. A friend of mine made a wonderful turkey soup a few years back, but I knew I could improve on it for my own and my family’s unique desires, so I created my own recipe. Here it is, but be warned: it is a lot of soup. You will no doubt want to share some of it with family or freeze about half for another time.

First, take the turkey carcass, meat attached, and break it into smaller pieces and put it in a 12-quart stock pot. Add leftover dressing and gravy, and then fill the pot with enough water to cover the turkey carcass. Allow this to cook for about an hour on low heat, first letting it come to a boil and then lowering the heat to the lowest setting. Cover and allow this to simmer. Do not overcook, because the meat is already cooked. You are only creating a stock with the leftovers, and flavoring the broth. After no more than 90 minutes, remove from heat and strain. While the bones and meat are cooling, return the stock to the pot. It should have chunks of vegetables in it, but nothing else at this point. Simmer this on medium high to reduce the stock, for about an hour, uncovered. At this point, add a cup of sweet red wine and a half cup of balsamic vinegar (or to taste), and up to a tablespoon of salt, if salt is needed. Optional: add one 15-oz can of tomato sauce. I also put a teaspoon of pickling spices in and add peppercorns.
Now prepare the vegetables. This can be to your family’s taste. I use a stalk of celery, washed and sliced, and a small bag of baby carrots, also sliced, using the 4 mm slicing blade on the food processor. If you want the vegetables cut into smaller pieces, run them through a second time. I use two spanish onions, peeled, cut into eighths, and then run through the slicing blade. A large turnip is also good, diced, plus four cloves of garlic, pressed. Last, about 10 minutes before the soup is done, add a small bag of frozen peas. You can also add corn, potatoes, etc., but I don’t. Others add rice, but we don’t like it.
While the pot simmers, cut the meat from the bone, discarding all fat and skin, and chop slightly. Add to the pot a few minutes before it is done. Check the soup before serving, to see if a large amount of fat is floating on top. If so, scoop most of it off. You don’t want anyone to have gallbladder attacks! Makes about 10-11 quarts of hot turkey soup. Serve with hot cornbread.

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