Turkey Carcass Soup – Thanksgiving All Wrapped Into One Pot

My body feels like it’s been run over by a truck. Okay, so I don’t actually know what it feels like to be run over by a truck, but I imagine it’s got to hurt — an awful lot, and my body right now, hurts, a lot. Lifting my arms to put on a shirt took more effort than I’d like to admit and bending over to pet Bell made me howl.

Why? Well, I guess the gardening, sod removal, weeding, planting, and bush removing that I’ve done the past three days, finally caught up with me. I’m just not that young anymore and am aging faster than I can keep up with. At the rate I’m going, by weeks end I’ll be older than I was just a few days ago, which goes without saying.

In order to recoup, revitalize, and renew my perspective, today was a day to ground myself and the best way I know how to do this is to hang laundry on the clothesline, fill a vase with the last of the lilacs from the bushes on the side of the house, throw a pot of soup on the stove, and can something. Nothing helps me “reset” after a busy couple of days than getting back to basics.

Laundry is never a problem around here, there’s always something to wash. Clipping the lilacs only took a minute or two, and filled the house with their sweet smell one last time until next year. The soup? Well, while most people were probably grilling on Memorial Day, I went against the grain and made roast turkey.

Yep! Thanksgiving in May with all the fixings. Turkey, homemade stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, homemade cranberry-plum sauce, pickled beets, and sweet potatoes. No pumpkin pie this time, but we did have fresh fruit for dessert.

The best part of making turkey any day of the year is what type of “Leftover Makeover” can be done with the turkey — Turkey Carcass Soup. Had it not been 85° on Memorial Day and the kitchen not been 95° because the oven had been going for five hours along with all four burners on the stove, I would have done exactly what I do Thanksgiving night, thrown the turkey carcass in the pot right after dinner. Not being thrilled with the prospect of sweltering in the heat the rest of the night, I chose to refrigerate the carcass until the weather broke a bit.

This morning, the weather was perfect for putting a large stock pot on the stove and allowing it to simmer all day on low, filling the house with the mouth-watering smell of roasted turkey and herb stuffing all over again.

Growing up, my mother never made Turkey Soup. I’m not sure why, she just never did. She was a good cook, albeit her comfort zone never wavered beyond meatloaf, roasts, and spaghetti. Although certainly not a gourmet meal, turkey soup was just not on her menu repertoire.

After many years of enjoying homemade chicken soup, one Thanksgiving night, as I was striping the turkey carcass of it’s meat for storage, preparing the bones for the trash, it hit me — Why not throw the carcass, scraps, fat, bones, and skin in a pot of water and see what happens? The results were better than I imagined. Unlike chicken soup, which I make with chicken thighs with the skin bought specifically for making soup, the turkey carcass had remnants of stuffing and roasted skin which gave the soup a rich, deep flavor. The broth was so good, I decided it would be a shame to muddy it with anything more than some fresh, needle-thin egg noodles, so I strained everything else out. Although not substantial enough for a meal, especially without any vegetables or meat, the flavors of the roasted turkey, herb stuffing, and vegetables added to the broth made for an amazing first course to any dinner or a great accompaniment for cold or hot turkey sandwiches for lunch.

Today’s “Leftover Makeover” is Turkey Carcass Soup — I know the name is a bit risky, but I bet it’s one you’ll remember.

Turkey Carcass Soup

Carcass from Roasted Turkey, including any fat, skin, bones or scraps that you can scrape off the cutting board
Large Stock Pot filled with hot water
2 tsp. salt
4 Carrots peeled and chopped in food processor
1 Large Onion peeled and chopped in food processor
3 Stalks Celery chopped in food processor

Put turkey carcass and cutting board scrapings into large stock pot and cover with water.
Add salt.
Prepare vegetables.
Add vegetables to pot.

DSCF1729Bring soup to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 3-4 hours or until all meat falls from bones and carcass falls apart.

After only an hour the broth is already getting murky from the fat.

After only an hour the broth is already getting murky from the fat.

Remove from heat and strain vegetables, bones, and meat from broth.
Return broth to pot and bring to boil.
Add thin egg noodles and return to boil. Noodles should cook within 2 – 3 minutes.


DSCF1770If you want vegetables and/or meat in your soup, once the soup has been strained, you can add diced turkey and vegetables to the broth, cook an additional hour or more depending on how thick vegetables are cut, then serve.

Taking a break from the seasonal demands of summer might not have been on my to do list but sometimes the body knows what the head won’t admit. Today my body told me it needed a day that didn’t include hauling dirt, digging holes, pulling weeds, trimming grass, pruning plants, or planning my next big garden project. This gave me the time needed to ground myself and get back to basics, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

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