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The Final Thanksgiving Leftover - Turkey Soup

Easy to make, easy to freeze, this technique makes a hearty turkey soup, no matter how many or how few leftovers you have.

It's been in your fridge since Thursday night, mocking you. You know you should do something with those turkey bones you've been picking clean over the past few days. But then, you wonder, isn't making stock a time-intensive process? Doesn't it take dozens of pans and cheesecloth and egg whites?

If that's what you're thinking, then it's no wonder you don't want to go diving in to this basic element of soup making. And it is true that a clarified stock for sauce-making and other uses can be a bit of a pain in the backside to do.

But we're talking soup - a hearty, filling soup that doesn't taste like turkey. A soup can you can have tonight or portion off into jars or containers and freeze for that next rainy day.

And if you've already tossed your bird, you can still make soup with whatever leftover meat or vegetables you have.

If you have your turkey bones, you can start with the broth-making, which is not hard to do at all. You get out your biggest pot. If you have a pasta strainer pot, that will make things a little easier, but it's not necessary. Put as many bones as will fit into the strainer or the pot. Cut an onion in half and peel. Drop that into the pot. Clean and break up a couple ribs of celery and a couple carrots and add. If you have some carrot and celery sticks getting dry and a little brown from your Thanksgiving day relish tray, use them instead. Add a healthy tablespoon of salt (less if sodium is a problem for you), another tablespoon of peppercorns, if you have them, about a teaspoon of ground black pepper if you don't.

Fill the pot with water, put a lid on it and haul it over to the stove. Crank the heat up high and wait for the water to boil - which you'll know is happening because you'll hear the first sizzles of steam dripping into your heating element. Turn the heat to low and let it simmer for an hour or two, or whenever you get back from returning that "perfect" sweater you bought on Friday for your mother that she doesn't want for Christmas after all.

Now, once the broth has simmered and the vegetables are pale immitations of what they once were, you have to strain the bones and the vegetables out, either by removing the pasta strainer, if you have one, or pouring the contents of your pot into a colander and a big bowl. Don't worry if some of it slops out. It happens. You can pick through your bones to catch the last bit of meat, if you want to. But after that, you can throw the whole mess out guilt free, comfortable in the knowledge that you have salvaged the very last bit of goodness to be gotten from your turkey.

Soup

1/2 medium onion

1-2 carrots

1/4 cup white wine (optional)

Turkey or other broth (how much you have is how much you make)

Any leftover bits of turkey meat (optional)

1 cup green beans, either leftover or from the freezer bag

1 cup peas

1 15 oz. can tomatoes

1/2 - 1 pound pasta

1 Tablespoon herbes de Provence dried herb mix

-or-

1/2 teaspoon each, dried marjoram, thyme, basil, oregano or any other dried herbs you like.

Dice your onion. Pour just enough oil into your soup pot to cover the bottom and put it over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the diced onion and stir. While that's cooking, slice or dice your carrots, then toss them into the pot. You can also add some chopped bell pepper at this point, if you like.

When the vegetables are getting a little on the translucent side, add the wine, then pour on your turkey broth. Toss in the vegetables and pasta, then the herbs. Give the broth a quick taste and add salt and pepper if it needs it.

Let it cook for about 30 minutes, or until your pasta is done. Then you can either have a bowl now, or just package the whole mess up into containers and put in the fridge for later this week or in the freezer for closer to Christmas. Just remember to label the containers.

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