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Homemade Turkey Soup

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This soup is made from the cooked turkey carcass.

In the Eastern block, particularly in the countries that came from the former Yugoslavia, soup is a daily part of the dinner meal. Often, the noon meal, too. There is always soup first. The soup is a chicken broth soup made with homemade noodles or knedle and has very little else in it. The broth is richly flavourful as the fowl there is free range and incredible. So, when I married my wonderful husband (and it is our 8th anniversary today… October 17th), I learned to make soup completely differently that I had been making it to please him. As any good wife would!

My mother’s soups, and mine, were laden with vegetables and meat. The broth was not thick, but you could definitely make a meal with a bowl of soup and a bun. That was the point. That is not the point with the soups from Vanja’s culture. They are the first course to the meal and intended to aid in digestion. I have already posted the traditional chicken soup recipe, although there it is often made by boiling an entire chicken, and then roasting it later for the main part of the meal. Or, the chicken head is often used for flavour and brings an incredibly rich flavour to the broth, much like shrimp heads bring to a shrimp bisque. There is often no meat in this traditional soup.

There has to be some meat in the soup. I leave the carcass with considerable meat on it, if it is a turkey soup. There is usually more than enough to eat from the carved portions, and this gives me some other ways to prepare it.Do you recognize this carcass from our Thanksgiving dinner? It goes into a very large stockpot and is covered with cold water.

I am so thrilled to still have fresh herbs in my kitchen garden at this time of year. It was such a treat to just step out the door and snip the flat leaf parsley and the bay leaves from my tree for the stock.

I have all of the ingredients for the stock on the plate below: onion, onion skin (it makes a dark stock: if you want a really dark stock, save all of your skins), a couple of carrots, a couple of stalks of celery (including the leaves), parsely tied in an elastic, bay leaves, and pepper corn (just a few).

Everything goes into the pot, without salt at this point, and is brought to a boil. The surface needs skimming, and then keep the temperature to a very low boil. I keep it on the back of the stove, with the lid on it, but ajar, for 5 to 6 hours. Then, sit it outside overnight to cool.

The following day, I remove all of the bones and discard all of the vegetables. I keep the meat in two groupings: beautiful meat for eating, and hard course meat for making a turkey salad or a cold turkey pate (not baked).

The bowl above, left, is the less desirable meat. I don’t want anything in the soup that will be unappealing in the mouth. I got just about the same amount, or more, to put back into the broth. The meat on the spoon is the succulent turkey meat added back to the soup. Below are the end of Vanja’s mother’s homemade noodles (so yellow from the yolks). I used them all at this point, with some beautiful Sundog Organic carrots sliced into coins.

I add the meat, noodles and carrots and bring the broth or stock back to a very low boil. Sometimes I will reduce the amount to intensify the flavour if it is not flavourful enough. This was very good. I season the soup when I have the flavour and the amount I want. And that is it! Yum!

It was really difficult for me to change my soup making practices, but this soup is a lovely soup. I place the remainder in jars or zip lock bags and freeze. Sometimes, I just freeze the stock and make the soup another day.

Homemade Turkey Soup Vanja’s Style

Ingredients:

  • turkey carcass
  • bundle of parsley
  • coarsely chopped onion with skin
  • 2 large carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, with leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 2-3 dry or 3-5 fresh bayleaves
  • 8-10 whole black peppercorn
  • enough water to cover carcass and ingredients
  • homemade noodles (or something similar)
  • fresh lovely garden carrots, coined
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Place all ingredients into a stock pot
  2. Bring to a boil
  3. Remove any surface scum
  4. Maintain a low boil; lid ajar, 5 to 6 hours
  5. Cool over night
  6. Strain stock from solids; discard vegetables
  7. Remove meat from bones
  8. Keep succulent meat for soup; keep coarse meat for a pate or a sandwich salad
  9. Add meat back to the stock
  10. Add noodles and coined carrots to stock
  11. Taste broth; if it is strong and lovely, season now, otherwise, leave the lid off and reduce liquid as you cook the vegetables at a low boil
  12. Season to taste

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About Valerie Lugonja

Educator, Writer, Gardener and Traveler who believes in buying and eating locally, and most importantly cooking at home!

Join The Conversation!

  1. Thanks Valerie for a delicious soup and a great tip -onion skin- which makes a difference!

  2. Val – That first photo of the turkey soup just brought me to my knees..wow! This is Jewish Penicillin times 10. I would love to have you here when I have a cold LOL It looks phenomenal and is absolute golden brothed perfection!

  3. aaack! i just missed wishing you guys a happy anniversary. hope you both had a wonderful anniversary, happy 8th anniversary to you two lovebirds :-D. by the way, you probably already know this, but 8 is a very lucky number for Chinese.

    your soup looks and sounds wonderful Valerie. i love that you named the recipe turkey soup Vanja’s style, haha. isn’t it funny the dishes we’re willing to learn and change to plaese the ones we love?

  4. O I love that first photo of the soup in the spoon and this looks like such a flavorful soup indeed!

  5. That looks so comforting! And thanks for the tip about onion skins!
    Sounds like you had a lovely Thanksgiving!

  6. Happy Anniversary, Valerie! Ooh, and you are a good wife (smile). This soup looks wicked wonderful;)

  7. Hi Valerie! I love turkey soup–more than the roast turkey, actually. Okay, I have done the Feedburner thing, so please let me know if it works. It’s the third one I have tried, so hopefully it does.
    I don’t actually live on a farm, but my aunt and uncle live on the family farm and I have always spent as much time as possible there.
    The pumpkin ice cream was delicious, but turned grainy quite quickly, probably because I doubled the pumpkin, so you may want to use the original quantities if you’re making it in advance. When it turned cool here and I didn’t feel like ice cream I melted it down and made a fantastic pumpkin pie with it. Now that’s versatile. Enjoy, and a very happy anniversary to your parents!
    :)
    Oh, and here’s the link to the suet post: http://marymaryculinary.blogspot.com/2010/04/daring-bakers-get-steamy.html

  8. I think I love leftovers from the Thanksgiving meal even more than the meal itself. So interesting to read about Eastern European cultures and soup too. Gosh, this soup look wonderful!

    Happy Anniversary to you and your husband!!

  9. WOW!! Your broth is so gorgeous! The color is wonderfully rich and I can only imagine how flavorful it is. :-) I adore homemade noodles!!!

  10. Nice soup recipe Val, so true about adding onion skins to deepen the colour of your stocks I agree.. Oh., Happy Anniversary too ;)

  11. The onion skin thing is new to me too. Can’t believe I haven’t come across that before. I’ve seen people use them, just didn’t know it had that effect.

  12. This reminds me exactly of the soup my mom used to make us when I was a kid. It was warming and oh so satisfying. The first line of this post is hilarious “This soup is made from the cooked turkey carcass.” So basic & yet most of us scoop broth from a jar. Tisk, tisk I know. The fresh herbs from your garden must add so much flavor – to everything you cook. xo

  13. Happy 8th anniversary!! This soup looks really good! I love how soup can come in so many different forms. In our house, most of the soups come from cans =S haha….or they’re the chinese soups- which come from packets of dry spices =) I love how this soup has noodles in it- I like noodles in soups! And it sounds really tasty too!

  14. hi valerie, thank you for this post:) just looking at this makes me feel all warm inside. this reminds me of something my mom used to make for us. your pictures are gorgeous. thank you for sharing this and for stopping by my website. have a nice day *hugs*

  15. Those are some racy photos are you sure PG is appropriate? GREG

  16. Right about now every year, I get very jealous of Canadians. You get to celebrate Thanksgiving before us and taunt with all the beautiful photos and recipes.

  17. Having just planted a lot of seeds, I also hope to have a garden full of herbs soon! We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here, and thus don’t have households filled with leftover turkey right now, but will keep this in mind after Christmas :)

  18. In Chinese cooking, we use the chicken carcass to cook soups Why waste? :) so tasty in soups.

  19. I love a good soup made from the carcass of a turkey and always made it after the holidays. I can’t believe that so many people just toss it!!

    Sorry to have missed meeting you on the POM harvest tour. Hope that you are feeling better.

  20. This is definitely my type of soup! Tigerfish has just taken the words out of my mouth. My mum adds tofu and black mushroom, sometimes wolfberries in it to make a really delicious and nutritious soup.

  21. I love chicken or turkey noodle soup. How about sending me some of the homemade noodles? Yum.

  22. This is a rich and hearty soup. I love it! I also love the care that goes into the preparation. Awesome.

  23. Hey Val,
    I haven’t been around lately, but soup always puts a big smile on my face. Love the turkey soup, and also like the story behind it — congrats to you and Vanja!

    –Andy

  24. Aaaaah, what a great way to use leftover turkey! This looks so comforting and hearty!

  25. Onion skins are a natural dye for wool. Never thought to use them in broth to make it darker! Brilliant. Beautiful rich soup. Looks delicious.

  26. Honestly, you know what I love most about thanksgiving and turkey? THe left overs – whether it be a sandwich or a hearty soup like this!

  27. This looks like the turkey soup my mom would always make after holidays. There is nothing more comforting than a big bowl of soup with fresh veggies and herbs. Thank you so much for sharing. And thank you also for your kind words and thoughts on my own blog. Your support is much appreciated during this hard time!

  28. mmmmm it looks soo so good!

  29. Hey Valerie, thanks for your very sweet comment on my post. It means a lot coming from someone who is such a responsible omnivore. Plus, I’ve already received a few nasty e-mails in reference to the post. It’s okay though. I did my best to write a respectful post, and I knew I’d get a bit of ugliness due to the topic. It seems to bring that out in some people…
    Okay, well, I hope you’re feeling well tonight.
    XO, Stella

  30. best part of winter by far is soup… especially turkey soup!! (and maybe homemade tortiere! haha)

  31. jules jameson says:

    Love the recipe not sure about placing out side though put in the refridgerator

    • Hi, Jules,
      Covered in Canada in October outside is usually as cold, or colder than the fridge. Otherwise, yes, the fridge, for sure! :)
      Valerie

  32. Hi VALERIE – here’s wishing you and yours an amazing NEW YEAR!

    Also the turkey soup is wodnerful – I love soups made out of carcass and the onion skin tip is wonderful :)

    I also love your homemade noodles!

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

    • Devaki!
      Wonderful to hear from you. So sweet you left a comment on this post. It is one of the top posts in the entire site. :)
      Happy New Year 2012 to you, too!
      XO
      V

  33. Hello, from Turkiye. I love your writing, photos and recipes. Now the time to boil soup south part of Türkiye. Thanks for sharing the nice recipe.

  34. Hi Val.

    I have a question??????
    We cooked our turkey carcass in water without the veggies, after we removed the meat and bones.
    We have ended up with a large pot of turkey thick jelly. We do not want to just throw it out .

    Do you have any suggestions ?/

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