Friday, November 27, 2009

What's Next

Making soup from the leftover turkey carcass is easy.  It’s roasting the meat that seems to make the stock superior and all that work has been done already.  Now, place the leftover bones in a large pot with a few scrubbed carrots, celery stalks and tops, onion and a bay leaf or two. My Czech-American grandmother taught me to toss a tomato in too. (It adds a rosy pink color and another nice supporting flavor.)  Barely cover these ingredients with water and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat to simmer, skim any accumulated foam with a slotted spoon and cover the pot loosely.  Leave this to simmer and bubble on very low heat for 2-3 hours or more.  Taste the stock and trust yourself to know when the flavor has transferred from bone and root to the liquid.  Strain the liquid, add a bit of salt, pepper and herbs like thyme and allow to cool in the refrigerator a few hours or overnight.  Any fat will rise to the top and the liquid will solidify making it easy to scrape off the fat before using your stock right away or dividing it into 1 and 2 cup portions to freeze and use later.

To make the soups below your own,  use your taste buds to adjust the flavor to your liking before you serve them.  Adjust the amount of water/stock, add salt, pepper and more herbs or look in the refrigerator for leftover cooked vegetables like butternut squash or roasted potatoes.  You'll notice these "recipes" are not very precise.  Measurements are inexact if present at all.  That's because making soup is not difficult if you follow the basics and trust yourself for the rest.  It is a collaboration between you and the food at hand, often leftovers that can be used to create something spectacularly simple and new. 

Wild Rice Turkey Soup

Cook wild or plain brown rice in water with some stock and salt added (follow the package directions).  Meanwhile over a medium setting, heat stock thinned with water plus peeled and sliced carrots, parsnips and celery.  When the vegetables are tender add cooked rice and leftover cooked turkey. 

Southwest Turkey Soup
Make a southwestern variation with brown rice, a can of low sodium black beans (rinsed), a half cup of fresh salsa and chopped cilantro.  Heat a few corn tortillas on the side topped with melted cheese. 

Pea Soup
For pea soup, pick over and rinse 2 cups of dried peas and add them to 6 cups of stock and water (1/2 and 1/2 is fine).  Add chopped celery, carrots and onion.   Simmer, stirring occasionally until legumes break down (about 1 hour).  Add more water  (half cup at a time) if you prefer a thinner soup.  Serve with a shot of dry sherry for a grown-up treat.  This recipe can be doubled.

Hearty soups served with simple green salads and whole grain breads make the transition into winter dinners pure and easy.