There are so many interesting ways to use up leftover turkey but sometimes the traditional favourites are best. Homemade turkey soup is probably the most popular. Adding some noodles to slurp up just makes Turkey Noodle Soup that much more fun to eat . And what could be more comforting on a chilly day?
The thing I love about making soup is there are no rules. A soup recipe is really a template, a starting point. After that it’s up to you. If you want lots of different ingredients, chop away. If you prefer a simple soup of broth and noodles, why not? The most important thing is flavour so if you taste as you go you can’t go wrong. Right?
The old fashioned way to make Turkey Noodle Soup is to boil the bones from a leftover turkey, hopefully one that has a fair bit of meat left on it. If you haven’t done this before it’s pretty easy and you’d be surprised how much meat you can find. Lots of hiding places, especially the back of the turkey which is often forgotten about when carving. If you’ve eaten all the turkey you can handle and want to make soup later, no big deal. Just seal the carcass in a few layers of plastic bags and toss it in the freezer.
You can speed up the process if you have a pressure cooker or instant pot. Of which I have neither.
What is an oyster on a turkey?
Did you know….turkeys and chickens have 2 spots on their back with the most tender and flavourful (in my humble opinion) dark meat? They hide in an indent in the bone, in the lower part near the thigh and are called the oyster. I sneak one before anyone else gets it, usually during carving. I probably shouldn’t have given that secret away.
I could write the recipe for Turkey Noodle Soup like my grandmother did for her butter tarts. Some of this, a bit of that. But I’ll try to be a little more specific.
Basically you put your turkey carcass in a big pot and add cold water. Don’t worry if part of the turkey sticks out above the water, it will break down as it simmers. Use about 10-12 cups of water, give or take depending on the size of the turkey. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce and let it simmer away for at least 3 hours, pressing the carcass down once in a while to ensure it breaks down and stays under the water. Cover the pot but make sure the vent is open or the lid is slightly askew. Meaning not tight. That’s so the steam can escape so the broth will reduce and become more flavourful. Adding a bay leaf to simmering broths adds a depth of flavour.
If you have a double boiler type of large pot you can use that and simply lift out the carcass to cool, leaving behind the strained broth. Otherwise, pour everything into a second large pot fitted with a strainer and let the meat cool.
Then pick out as much meat as you can. If you find an oyster and no one is looking, eat it. It’s too good to be lost in the soup. You want about 3 cups of meat. Or more.
Now taste the broth. It will definitely need salt and pepper. If it needs more flavour, as it usually does, add a package or cube of chicken bouillon. Or two. It’s not cheating, it’s assisting. In hockey you get a point for that.
The perfect base for homemade soup is the “mirepoix” – onion, celery and carrot. Add some to the broth, and let it simmer away. You want about 3 cups in total of vegetables. Add the meat too. It doesn’t really matter if your veggies are cut up into smaller or larger pieces.
What do you use for noodles in soup?
The best noodles for Turkey Noodle Soup are vermicelli. It’s a thinner pasta than spaghetti in long strands that can easily be broken into the size you like. I break mine into about 4 sections which is about the perfect size to slurp up without being too long or short.
Don’t be tempted to use too much or you’ll end up with a big pot of noodles and not much broth. Just a small handful will do. If you’re not sure what 100 grams of pasta looks like, the smaller boxed sizes of long pasta are typically around 400 g ish, so use about 1/4 of a box. So you’re adding basically 1 serving of pasta. The vermicelli actually thickens the broth a bit as it cooks too so your soup will be extra hearty.
Once you’ve added the vermicelli to your soup, let it cook about 10 more minutes then add frozen peas and fresh parsley right at the end. This way the peas don’t turn a yucky grey colour and the parsley adds a fresh element.
Not in the mood for old fashioned ways? No problem. Just cut off as much meat from the turkey you can find and use store bought chicken broth. There’s no soup police.
Add some fresh cracked black pepper right before serving if you like.
Homemade soups freeze well so save your pasta sauce jars which are a perfect size for 2 servings of soup.
Here’s the recipe:
Turkey Noodle Soup
- 1 turkey carcass with some meat left
- 8-10 cups cold water
- 1 bay leaf or 2 if small leaves
- 1 large onion
- 3 stalks celery
- 3 carrots
- 1 or 2 packages or cubes of chicken bouillon if required for better flavour
- 100 g vermicelli
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 handful fresh chopped parsley
- salt and pepper to taste
- Place turkey carcass in large pot and cover with cold water. Larger turkeys can be cut or broken into smaller pieces. It's not necessary to completely cover the carcass. Add a bay leaf or 2.
- Bring water to boil, then reduce temperature to a simmer, covering partly with lid to allow steam to escape as the broth simmers. Press down carcass periodically to help turkey break up and remain under most of the water. Simmer for about 3 hours.
- Remove turkey from broth and strain liquid. Allow turkey to cool enough to handle, then remove as much meat as possible.
- Meanwhile, chop onion, celery and carrots. Add to strained broth. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Add chicken bouillon if more flavour is desired. Simmer for 30 minutes.
- Break vermicelli into pieces and add to soup. Simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add frozen peas and fresh parsley, heating only until peas are warm.