Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Now for the Uses of Leftover Turkey

Once Thanksgiving passes, or Christmas, or any time there is a whole turkey involved, you will likely have leftovers. One is constantly looking for a new way to use them up. Aside from the meal involved with Thanksgiving, which is a personal favorite among meals, I love the leftovers best. There are always ways to use leftover turkey. And the best thing is that even though though many of these recipes specifically call for turkey, they can also be made with leftover chicken, or even a rotisserie chicken, making the whole thing much faster.
Turkey Vegetable Soup with Butter Dumplings


Turkey soup is a tradition in many families. Mine was not one of them. I once tried using the picked-over carcass to make a soup, to please my husband. Truly, I could not see what the fuss was about. I thought the soup was completely bland. I have made stock many a time over the years, using raw parts of whichever animal was available at the time. I also have, on occasion, roasted beef soup bones before making the stock, and that was great. I think what was missing from that soup made with a picked-over turkey carcass was pan drippings. That is what really makes the flavor pop. If your pan drippings from the turkey all went towards making stellar gravy, then one is just sadly, out of luck on that score.

So, it was with some trepidation that I made a Turkey Vegetable Soup a couple of days ago, with one whole leg/thigh portion of our turkey from last week. I also thought to make dumplings for the soup, just because I haven't made dumplings for a very long time. 

The first thing I did was remove the skin from the leg and thigh, insofar as it was possible. I did this because while our turkey tasted perfectly seasoned, I did have a reaction to the salt. I realize that most of the salt was absorbed into the turkey before roasting, but there was still salt on the skin, so the skin came off, despite the possible addition of flavor to the soup. My husband likes soups that have heft to them. Either a creamed soup, or a soup with so many things in it that a spoon nearly stands up on its own. I really love vegetable soups, adding in anything at all that I have on hand, most times. This soup was not much different. I had less vegetables on hand than I do at some times, but I had enough. My turkey was a smaller one, at 13 pounds, and after cooking the whole leg and thigh in the soup, I had close to 4 cups of turkey meat. If you had a very large bird, calculate accordingly.

Ultimately, the results were stunningly good. Here is what I did:

Turkey Vegetable Soup with Butter Dumplings

Turkey Vegetable Soup

makes about 10 cups 


2 - 3 tablespoons butter or oil
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, diced (1 1/2 cups)
2 - 3 carrots, scrubbed and diced (1 1/2 cups)
2 - 3 stalks celery, cubed (1 cup)
1 large parsnip, peeled, diced (1 cup)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 whole leg and thigh of a roasted turkey, approximately 3 1/2 to 4 cups meat worth
8 cups turkey or chicken stock, or water
1 large potato, peeled, cubed (1 1/2 to 2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, optional
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 small bunch parsley
1 small bunch cilantro
3 cups diced cabbage
2 cups peeled, cubed butternut squash

1 cup frozen peas


Sweated vegetables  |        turkey leg & thigh      |   soup ready to cook
In a large soup pot, melt the butter and add in the onion, bell pepper, carrots, celery and parsnip. Sweat the vegetables (cook without browning) for about 10 minutes. Add in the minced garlic and stir for another 2 or 3 minutes. Set the turkey parts on top of the vegetables and add in the stock or water. Add the potato, saffron threads if using, pepper and bay leaf. Using kitchen twine, tie the small bunches of parsley and cilantro together (for easy removal later) and add to the pot. Bring to boil, lower heat to a simmer, cover and cook for at least an hour, until the meat falls easily from the bone. Remove the turkey from the pot to a plate to cool.


Turkey removed to cool       |    soup so far     |  squash & cabbage added in
Add the cabbage and squash to the pot, cover and continue to cook while working with the turkey meat. Once cool enough to handle, remove all meat from bones, discarding the bones, tendons and skin, if remaining. Cut the meat into small bits and return them to the pot. Taste the soup for seasoning. My turkey was salted enough that I only needed to add 1/2 teaspoon salt to the large pot. If using a salted stock, be careful to taste before adding more salt. Allow the soup to cook for another half hour, or until all the vegetables are tender. Remove the bay leaf and the tied bundle of parsley and cilantro and discard. Add in the frozen peas and cook only until the peas are warmed through, 5 or so minutes.
all meat removed from bones  |     meat cubed        |    added back into soup


The dumplings idea sort of stayed in my head after watching The Chew, where Michael Symon was making his "Pap's" turkey soup with ham and dumplings. I have a recipe I used to make in past, but my dumpling dough was far thinner than the one Michael Symon made. I made a decision to update my dumpling recipe. The dumplings can be made with two spoons, or doing it as Michael Symon did, sliding portions off a board. I did make my dumplings much smaller. I hate having to try and cut something in a very hot liquid. Method to my madness. The chives idea looked pretty when Michael Symon made his dumplings, and since I still had a little bit of fresh chives still growing in my sun room, I used them. Finely minced scallion or even shallot would work also. The dumpling batter can be made earlier in the day, to cook later.

Butter & Chive Dumplings


3/4 cup all-purpose flour (3.4 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons fresh chives, minced

Mixing dumpling dough   |   spread on small board    |   paring knife portions
Place the first three dry ingredients into a small bowl. Add the soft butter and rub the butter into the dry ingredients using fingers, or sliging the whole mixture across palms, until it has become flaky looking. Add in the beaten eggs and stir to combine. Add the chives and stir. 

Either dampen or lightly oil a small cutting board or other flat surface with no edge or lip. Place the dumpling batter on this surface and smooth out to about 1/4 inch thick. Moisten the top or spray with cooking spray and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for at least an hour, or until the soup is ready.

Heat a pot of salted water to a gentle boil. Begin sliding bits of the dumpling dough into the water. I used two 4-inch paring knives. I slid one small length of dough about 1/2 x 2-inches on one knife, then used the second knife to cut that bit in half, dropping the two smaller pieces into the water. You can make them larger if desired. The dumplings are cooked once they rise to the surface of the water. Remove them with a slotted spoon to the pot of soup. Repeat until all the dumpling dough is used. and added to the soup pot.

A most delicious Turkey Vegetable Soup with Butter & Chive Dumplings


My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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