Sunday, March 6, 2011

Turkey Soup for the Soul

Never throw out the bones...

I usually have a few plastic baggies containing bones leftover from various meals hiding in the freezer. Sometimes a baggie may have shrimp shells or a fish head...

The stuff that most people (most Americans at least) throw away is usually some of the best and most versatile parts of the animal. Soups, stocks, bases for sauces, or just a little something to add flavor to a pot of greens.

In this case, it was a whole Turkey carcass with quite a bit of meat on it. We had a frozen turkey that had been taking up space in the freezer for a little too long, so we had an early mini-thanksgiving. The good stuff was what became of the leftovers- the carcass had all the seasoning from our previous meal, and a few scraps of stuffing stuck to the inside, so I put it in a large pot of water with a celery stalk, a bay leaf, and some salt and pepper. After simmering it most of the day, I fished out the bones (now spent, with all flavor extracted, they can be thrown away safely), and chopped up the meat. I added two more fresh celery stalks chopped into bits, a box of dry macaroni, some chopped carrots, sliced onions, and a little shredded cabbage.

A quick seasoning adjustment (the turkey brought in a lot of the seasoning so it only needed a touch), I also decided to toss in a few basil leaves- leftover from my caprese style grilled cheese while they were still holding up well in the fridge. Once the pasta was done, dinner was ready. When you make a soup from scratch, and have a long time to simmer your bones, it's nothing short of comfort in a bowl.

So- keep your own collection of beef bones left over from steak night, that ham bone that you just can't get all the meat off of, every chunk of cartilage and connective tissue, hunks of chicken skin with blobs of fat stuck to it, and keep them a while in the freezer- they may taste better the second time around. The greatest compliment you can pay to a meal, is to make something good out of the leftovers. If nothing else, it will cut down on waste, and make the most out of your meat/fish budget at the grocery store.