This is Part 1 of a three-part series. Read Part 2 and Part 3!

Oh, Thanksgiving. Ye olde holiday where we make waaaay too much food, gorge ourselves into a coma and then *still* have to find homes for all the leftover food. I used to push my portion of the leftovers off on my sister (which she never refused), feigning fullness or lack of refrigerator space or inability to eat that much before it’ll go bad (the latter excuse became useless after I started bringing my spouse-to-be, who can eat like 3 men and never gain a pound).

In the last few years, a few post-Thanksgiving recipes have become a tradition in my home, and because of them, I no longer hesitate to ask for (nay, demand!) my fair share of the turkey leftovers.

First on the list: Turkey Bone Broth and Turkey Noodle Soup. 

Thanksgiving-turkey-broth

Doesn’t that look amazing?! And that’s not even the soup! That’s just the broth-making. You’d be AMAZED at how much meat is left on the bones when you think your family has picked it clean. Most people waste one to three cups of turkey scraps when they throw away the carcass. Blasphemy!

Prep Tips:

  • If you can’t make the broth within a few days, freeze the turkey frame.
  • Reduce even more waste in your home by saving the typically-discarded parts of carrots, onions, leeks and celery for a few weeks before making the broth. The veggie scraps can be frozen until you’re ready to use them.
  • Keep celery leaves and parsley fresh in a cup of water in the refrigerator for a couple weeks.
  • Don’t toss those nearly-round-the-bend veggies. They’ll still impart flavor, even if they’re no longer pretty.

All measurements are approximate because I just throw things in. There’s really no wrong way to make a good broth except to not use enough stuff in it. You can double the recipe if you have a big enough pot (the pot in the photo above is a classic Ball canning pot). Don’t be intimidated! The directions are long, but it’s super simple to do!

Turkey Broth

Ingredients (Approximate. Adjust as desired and according to what veggie scraps you have saved)

  • 1 turkey frame with meat scraps attached
  • Water to cover
  • 2-3 chicken bouillon cubes, depending on how much water you use (Optional. If you have a lot of veggies and a good sized turkey, you may not need this. They also have a good amount of salt in them, so hold back on the other added salt until you can taste and adjust seasonings at the end. I recommend organic bouillon if you can find it.)
  • 3 or more carrots (or equivalent in scraps)
  • 3 or more celery stalks (include leaves, if any)
  • 1 large onion (or a couple large leeks, including ends and leaves)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-3 tsp. dried thyme (or 3x as much if using fresh)
  • 1 Tbsp. salt (optional)
  • 20 whole black peppercorns
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp. red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 to 1 bunch parsley (or whatever you have languishing in the fridge), tied together with kitchen twine for easy removal later

Day 1: Put the turkey frame in a a large pot, add water to cover by an inch or so and heat over medium-high heat. While the water heats, chop veggies and add to pot. Add spices. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours or more. When broth is flavorful and turkey scraps are falling off the bone, turn off the heat and remove the bones and meat to a platter to cool. Strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer into a clean pot and add any remaining meat scraps to the platter. When cool enough to handle, separate the meat from the bones (the picking apart process can take a little while). Be sure to check closely for the long, thin, sharp bones typical in turkey. Discard bones and used vegetables. Add turkey back to the broth, cover and place pot in refrigerator overnight.

If you just want the broth, save the turkey scraps for turkey salad, an amazing turkey pot pie, BBQ sandwiches, stir fries or any other recipe that calls for shredded poultry. Cooked turkey will keep in the refrigerator for a week or can be wrapped in plastic and foil frozen for 3-6 months.

Day 2: The next day, skim the fat off the top with a slotted spoon and discard. Now you have homemade turkey broth ready to be made into soup!

Or if you prefer, you can also preserve this turkey broth by freezing or canning it according to safe preservation techniques.

Note: If you choose to preserve the broth, you’ll notice a very fine “sediment” settle to the bottom of the jars. This is just small pieces of the foods and spices used during broth-making, but if you don’t want this, you can strain the broth a second time through a few layers of cheesecloth.

Turkey Noodle Soup

turkey-frame-soup-2

Serves: Varies depending on how much broth was made. Typically serves 8-10.

Ingredients: 

  • Turkey broth with meat
  • 4-6 carrots, depending on their size (add until it looks right)
  • 2 large potatoes
  • 2 other root vegetables, like rutabaga, turnip and parsnip (or 2 more potatoes, if you prefer)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1-1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, such as peas, corn, green beans, etc.
  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups cooked egg noodles, depending on number of people being served

Heat the broth and meat over medium-high heat. While it heats, chop carrots, potatoes and root vegetables and add to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally. Taste and add salt and pepper if desired. 30 minutes before serving, add the frozen vegetables and parsley and heat through. To serve, ladle some egg noodles into a bowl, then top with the soup. Enjoy!

Continue reading Part 2 in this three-part series!