One of the big traditions of Thanksgiving at my house growing up was making turkey soup out of the leftover turkey carcass. (I come by my frugality naturally, huh?)
One of the things I remember my mother doing was chilling the stock and very carefully skimming every bit of fat off the top, proud of how healthy and low-calorie this made the soup. But many years later I tasted my friend Philip’s turkey soup and it was SO much better than my mother’s ever was! I quickly discovered that his big secret was that he left most of the fat IN!
So the choice is yours, depending on your priorities, as to how you decide to go with your turkey soup!
For the stock:
1 turkey carcass, from a 12- to 25-pound turkey (you want to leave SOME meat on the bones; but most of the turkey in the finished soup will come from adding it to the finished stock)
1 onion, quartered (minced onions substitutes just fine)
2 scrubbed carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 celery stalks with leaves, cut into 1-inch pieces
1-2 bay leaves (depending how big the carcass is)
a dozen parsley stems
8 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1 t dried (rosemary is nice too)
1 dozen peppercorns
2t kosher salt, or more to taste
Cover the carcass in a stockpot with enough cold water to cover it – about 16 cups. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, skimming off all the impurities that rise to the top. This will take about 30 minutes.
Add in the rest of the ingredients and simmer, partially covered, about 2 hours. Keep the heat on LOW – like not even really boiling, just “smiling” as the New York Times says. The point is to extract the flavor and collagen from the bones, not evaporate away all your yummy stock! When you’re done, strain the bones, let them cool and pick all the meat out and put it back into the stock.
To turn your stock into turkey soup, add some sliced carrots and celery as well as fresh turkey meat. You can also add your choice of starches, including: rice, egg noodles, or even dumplings, if you feel like making them. LOL