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Show Some Respect for the Honored Dead — and make Turkey Soup!

turkeysoup If your house is like mine, the carcass from yesterday’s dinner turkey got a piece of aluminum foil thrown over the top of it and is sitting forlornly in the refrigerator, having been combed for odd bits of meat over the past 24 hours.

And you are really quite fed up with it sitting there and are about to unceremoniously throw the poor thing into the garbage, scraping out the roasting pan and letting it be done at that.

“Step away from the roaster, Sir (or Ma’am) and no one will get hurt.”

Now is the time to show some restraint and respect for the poor bird who “gave it up” for your family yesterday. We’re going to turn it into soup today! You will need: the turkey carcass and hopefully the pan that you cooked it in with all the lovely stuff still in it, plus a little salt or a can of chicken or turkey broth.

Take a big pan – like a Dutch Oven – and scrape what was in the roasting pan (veggies, jellied liquid and all) into the Dutch Oven.

Break up the carcass into pieces that will fit into the Dutch Oven and put enough water in the Dutch Oven to just about cover the pieces of the carcass. (Disclaimer, because I know someone out there will remind me about this: If your muni water system adds chemicals like fluoride, chlorine, etc. or if your tap water has “smells,” then you are going to want to use another source for your water, like spring water)

If you want to put more aromatic veggies in there like onions, garlic, and celery, chop them up and add them now.

Cover and bring to a boil and turn down the heat to simmer for a couple of hours. Then, pull out the bones and pull off any meat that has not fallen off.

NOW you can throw out the carcass.

Strain the liquid through a sieve into a bowl or another pot and put the sieve aside. Now, we need to chill the liquid and get off the extra fat. You can do this by putting it into your fridge, or, if you lack room and it’s winter time, cover the pot tightly and put it outside on the porch, deck or whatever in a secure place. This is your stock.

In the meantime, go through what you separated out and take out the meat. Frankly, at this point, the veggies have given up their best flavor to the stock and you can either do what you normally do with vegetable peels, or put them on the compost heap. Chop up the meat into a smallish dice.

Once the stock has chilled enough, uncover it. The fat will have risen to the top and made a cake, which you can break up into chunks and take out. If you like to use fat with flavor in it to cook other things, then you can wash these pieces off and store in a container in your refrigerator and use it as you wish. In Eastern European Jewish cooking, this stuff would be called Schmalz (that’s sort of an umbrella term and also includes goose fat and chicken fat). There will always be a little bit of the fat still in the stock; it will have plenty of flavor, believe me.

To finish up the soup, put back the meat and new veggies that you want into the soup (more onions, carrots, celery), plus anything like barley or rice. NOW taste the soup. If it doesn’t taste as strongly as you’d like, add a little salt to it, or add a can of chicken or turkey broth. You can cook rice or barley right in the soup as it heats up; if you have already cooked grains available as left overs, then the process just goes faster.

Heat up your soup again and simmer it until the veggies and grains are tender.

Serve and enjoy; refrigerate or freeze the leftovers!

(originally published at Oxdown Gazette)

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