Turkey Soup

Every year I read articles in the newspaper and magazines, and see segments on TV about what to do with leftover turkey. I am always amazed to see that a lot of this advice is for people who are sick of those leftovers. Sick of them? I guess thrifty folks are more apt to be thankful instead. I always wonder why people don't just freeze some if they have so much they're tired of it.

In fact, I propose we make even more leftovers - by using the carcass itself. I guess a lot of people would think it sounds kind of nasty, but those turkey bones will make you some really good soup. It shouldn't be surprising - meat on the bone has more flavor, and making stock from beef bones is a standard. My mother made great stock from the turkey carcass every year.

First came the stock, rich and delicious, and then came the soup for dinner, made from the stock with the addition of more veggies and meat and some noodles or rice. She would also put stock in the freezer, to make a couple of batches of chicken soup for the cold days of January and February.


  • I large turkey carcass, after you've cut the meat off.
  • Onions, root end cut off but skin left on, cut in quarters if large, halves if medium or small
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  • Celery, don't bother to chop it up, just break it in half
  • Carrots, cut the ends off, but don't peel. Chop them only if you need to to fit them into the pot
  • Water to cover
  • Optional:
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Any other savory vegetables you have on hand. Don't include potatoes, and probably not garlic. You are making stock, not soup. So the veggies should add good flavor that won't interfere with the flavor of any soup you might make with it later.
  • Herbs of choice, optional.


Break the turkey carcass apart so that it will fit in whatever kettle you are using to cook your broth. Put it in the pot and cover it with water. Throw in your onions and celery (the onion skins help make the broth a nice color). Add some herbs if you like, but remember that you want your stock to be nice and versatile for using later. I add peppercorns and bay leaves, nothing else.


Put the lid on the pot and bring the water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Now simmer it for at least a few hours. You want to get every last bit of flavor out of the bones and any of the turkey and stuffing that was left on them. The veggies, especially the carrots, will get very soft, and may even break up. These aren't for dining on, just for giving the stock flavor and nutrition. You will be taking them out of the stock.

The last step is to get every bone and all the bay leaves and soggy veggies out. You can do this by putting everything into cheesecloth and tying it off before you add the water. I think this uses to much cheesecloth, but that's just me. I let the stock cool, line a big colander with a double layer of cheesecloth, set the colander into a large bowl, and I separate it out that way, letting the colander drain thoroughly.


The bones finally get to go into the trash. I pick through what is left to get any good bits of turkey out to put into soup that night. There is usually a surprising amount of good turkey left.

Divide the stock up into parts, enough to make soup for dinner, if you are doing that, and the rest to freeze. 1 and 2 cup containers are good. To use the stock, make your soup as you usually would, but use your own, homemade stock instead of water, cans, or bouillon cubes. It'll be a lot tastier and healthier than anything out of a can or a cube.

Source: My Mom, Vicy Mundorff

By Free2B from North Royalton, OH

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November 28, 20110 found this helpful

Great recipe! I also use the carcass to make and can my own broth.

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November 30, 20110 found this helpful

I always buy a bigger turkey just so I have leftovers to make soup with, I think we like it almost better than the turkey it self! I also use the carcass & do mine the same way you do.


There was a column in our newspaper, that for years would post the same article before Thanksgiving on how to make the best turkey soup. Their directions included breaking the big bones with plyers to expose the marrow (very nutritious). The skin was fried in a skillet to remove the fat, then when it was super crisp, it was crumbled to powder & put in the pot to add a rich flavor. I never did it because it was such a time-consuming process, but people swore it was the absolute best soup you would ever taste.

One thing to mention for people who are new to using the bones to make your broth - when your broth cools, there will be a thick, gelatinous layer on it (maybe light yellow). This is NOT fat (fat is white & greasy feeling), DON'T throw it away! This is what comes from boiling the bones, it's full of nutrients & adds flavor & thickness to your soup. It's basically the same thing they use to make gelatin jello.


I didn't know this at first & carefully skimmed the stuff off & threw it away until I learned better.

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