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Serendipity Soup

25 November 2006

I’ve always dreaded those first few days after a big Thanksgiving feast. Eating turkey once is a celebration. Eating turkey every day for the next four days feels like a chore. Fortunately, I’ve been the guest at other people’s feasts for the past few years, so I’ve not been faced with pangs of guilt every time I opened the door on a refrigerator full of leftovers. (How can you, in good conscience, just throw out the scraps from a meal you cooked to celebrate the abundance that’s been heaped on you in the previous year?)

This year it was my housemate Cindy, who was faced with the guilt. She works a local college and decided to host a Thanksgiving dinner for international students or anyone else stuck on campus for the holidays. As we cleaned up after the meal, Cindy stared at the picked over turkey carcass wondering what she’d do with it. She had just barely finished saying “I don’t even really like turkey all that much,” when I found myself offering to take the leftover turkey off her hands.

Maybe a few leftover-less years had cured me of my customary aversion. Or maybe it was just that I’d been talking about one of my favorite barley recipes with my friend Gail earlier in the day. I just suddenly knew that I had to make turkey barley soup.

I love clean, herbaceous flavors in chicken soup, so my version uses both celery root and celery stalks along with a little fennel and fresh parsley. And since I don’t particularly like the texture of dark meat — too soft for me, chalk it up to my history as a picky eater — I shredded all the turkey meat, both light and dark as if I were making pulled pork.

Turkey Barley Soup

1 leftover small to medium turkey carcass
Turkey meat from carcass and leftovers to make 2 cups shredded meat
1 cup uncooked barley
1 leek
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
2-3 medium carrots
1/2 small celery root
1/2 small fennel bulb
2 celery stalks
1 fistful fresh curly parsley
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Place turkey carcass in an 8 quart stockpot and cover with water. Depending on the size of the carcass, you may need to separate it into several pieces. Bring water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, skimming as needed.
  2. Remove carcass from the stockpot and strain stock. While stock cools, remove any remaining hunks of meat from the bones. Cut off any bits of tendon or cartilage and shred the meat into strands as if for pulled pork. Combine the meat from the carcass with leftover turkey meat for a total of 2 cups of shredded turkey meat.
  3. Skim any fat off of cooled stock and return to rinsed stockpot. Return stock to stove and bring to a boil. Add barley and reduce heat to medium low. While barley simmers, prepare the vegetables in this order.
  4. Slice off root end and green portion of leek bulb. Slice the remaining stem in quarters lengthwise and, holding each section at one end, rinse between layers to remove any sand or grit. Slice the sections thinly crosswise.
  5. Heat butter in a small skillet over medium high heat until foamy. Add sliced leek and saute over medium heat until tender. Add to simmering soup.
  6. Peel and dice carrots and celery root. Add to soup.
  7. Dice celery stalks. Remove any fronts from fennel and dice. Add to soup.
  8. Continue simmering soup until barley and root vegetables are tender — approximately 30 minutes from addition of barley.
  9. Finely chop parsley. Add parsley and turkey to soup and simmer for another five minutes to warm thoroughly.
  10. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serves: 8 to 12

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