Thanksgiving brought plates piled high with turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes dripping with gravy, brussels sprouts, carrots, squash, and peas Later that night, finally hungry again, our families gathered together in the kitchen for turkey sandwiches spread with mayo and cranberry. Friday night was leftovers, straight out of the tupperware. Saturday we transformed them into Turkey Tetrazzini or Divan.

Now, picked clean, the turkey carcass is ready for soup: thin, disappointing turkey soup. If we’re lucky, there is a little gravy left over to thicken it. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

I found this recipe in the Gourmet cookbook, and now use it every year. This is by far the richest turkey carcass stock I have ever tasted. One more thing to be truly thankful for this holiday.

Leftovers Turkey Soup

from the Gourmet cookbook

Directions for stock:

Pick the big pieces of meat from your turkey carcass or carcasses, retaining about 2 cups of meat. Break up the carcass with your hands and place it, along with any remaining skin and the wings, in a stock pot. Cover with water so the bones are 2-3 inches under the surface. Bring to a simmer and skim the foam from the surface.

Chop and add 2 celery ribs, 1 large carrot and 1 large onion along with 2 bay leaves. Simmer for four hours, then remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Chill the stock in the fridge overnight.

In the morning, skim the fat from the surface of the stock. The stock below will be like jello. Warm over medium heat, until the stock is liquid, then strain through a colander and discard the solids.Strain one more time through a fine strainer lined with cheese cloth. This is the stock for your soup.

Ingredients for turkey soup:

  • 2 celery ribs, sliced thinly
  • 1 carrot, halved or quartered and sliced thinly
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 leek, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8-12 cups turkey stock (add chicken stock to make up the difference if needed)
  • 2 cups leftover turkey
  • 1-2 cups cooked rice, barley or pasta


  • In a soup pot, saute onion, carrot and celery in butter over medium heat until lightly browned on edges.
  • Add bay leaves, stock and turkey. Simmer over low heat for 25-30 minutes to develop flavors.
  • Add grains or pasta, simmer 5 minutes more, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve – all week long.

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