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Turkey Remainder Soup

Turkey carcass soup with cabbage and escarole

My favorite serving of the Thanksgiving turkey is not the meat at the meal, but the soup made from the mostly stripped turkey carcass for Sunday supper. Turkey Remainder Soup has all the qualities one looks for in honest cuisine. It is nutritious and satisfying for both the body and the soul (as all good soups are). It is the epitome of frugality and practicality, squeezing yet one more use (and two more meals for a family of four) out of what's already a relatively inexpensive ingredient. It is also simple in preparation, presentation and consumption.

This recipe is inspired by Italian Wedding Soup (Minestra Maritata). Now, Italian Wedding Soup (the original Neapolitan dish, not the American meatball versions) has absolutely nothing to do with a couple joining together in matrimony. Rather the “Wedding” in the name refers to the harmonious marriage of simple ingredients (cured meats and flavorful greens like green cabbage, escarole and broccoli rabe) in a flavorful soup. In this case the traditional ham and salami (or meatballs for most Americans) is replaced with the bones from a roast turkey and whatever meat may still cling to them.

A simple trick for adding back some of the flavor lost from the absence of cured meats is use some pancetta when cooking the vegetables before adding the liquid. This adds a little bit of fat and salt from the pancetta and some rich sweetness from the caramelization of the sugars in the vegetables.

Turkey Remainder Soup (Leftover Turkey Carcass Soup)

Serves six to eight adults


Carcass from one 12–14 pound roast turkey (with some meat left on), hacked up into 6-8 pieces
1-1/2 cups mirepoix (1 carrot,1 celery rib and 1 small onion, all diced)
1/4 lb. thickly sliced pancetta, diced
2 sprigs of thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1 bay leaf
4-5 whole peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
3–1/2 cups water
1 lb. (a small head) of cabbage, washed, dried and sliced thinly
1 lb. (a small head) of escarole, washed, dried and sliced thinly
Salt and Pepper
Parmigiano Reggiano (optional) for serving.


  • Heat an 8 quart or larger stockpot over medium–high heat for about five minutes. Add about2/3 of the pancetta to the pot and cook it, stirring frequently, until most of the fat has rendered and the meat is crisp.
  • Add the mirepoix and continue cooking over medium–high heat until the vegetables soften and begin to brown. Add the thyme, bay leaf, peppercorns, oregano and turkey carcass and continue cooking for a few more minutes until the herbs become fragrant. Add enough water to cover the ingredients with two to three inches to spare. Simmer over very low heat for two to three hours, frequently skimming whatever foam may develop on top.
  • Strain the broth, setting aside the bones and their meat to cool. Remove any remaining liquid and solids from the stockpot with a wad of paper towels and return the stockpot to the burner, turning the burner back to medium–high heat.
  • Add the remaining pancetta to the stockpot and, again, cook it until most of the fat has rendered and the meat is crisp. Add the cabbage and escarole, cooking, stirring frequently, until the escarole turns bright green and the cabbage begins to brown (about 10 minutes). Return the broth to the stockpot, turn the heat to high. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Remove whatever meat you can from the bones and add it to the stockpot. When the soup comes to a boil, lower the heat and simmer the stock for a half hour or so for the flavors to meld.
  • Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with freshly grated or shaved parmesan cheese.

Posted on Dec 01, 2002 @ 10:14 PM


margit chase:

Please save some of the soup for me to take home or bring it saturday. sounds good, jah, make a dogbaggie, love Mor. Give all your girls a kiss from me.

Posted on Dec 02, 2002 @ 02:28 PM

robert peyton:

Yep. I had the performances section bookmarked.

I'm going to go write, "I will first confirm that I am not an internet moron before complaining about things on websites" on a blackboard 100 times now.


Posted on Dec 05, 2002 @ 01:52 PM


Heh. I have this bookmark in my browser at work that's been broken for six months. Do I fix the bookmark? Nah, that would make sense. I just click on the bookmark, get a page not found error, and type in the new URL.

Posted on Dec 05, 2002 @ 08:32 PM

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