It's a stretch to say that the sole reason for roasting a turkey is so that you can make soup from the carcass later. But if you've ever been disappointed by how your turkey turned out, like maybe the white meat was a bit dry and overcooked, the carcass is the turkey's way of making it up to you.
(And if your turkey was perfectly moist and crispy and flavorful, making soup is just an added bonus.)
You can make a terrific broth by simmering a turkey carcass along with some carrots, celery, onion, herbs, spices—and then using that broth to make turkey noodle soup with the leftover meat.
As a matter of fact, it happens to be the very best thing you can do with a turkey carcass. You'll probably have to cut it up first, which you can do using a good set of kitchen shears. And you can wrap up the parts you don't use and freeze them.
You can also use the broth for making turkey chili or turkey gravy—the possibilities are limitless, and it all starts with the turkey carcass.
Not only do the bones impart loads of deep turkey flavor, but the cartilage in the sternum, ribcage, and elsewhere will slowly melt away into a rich gelatin which will give body to the soup, and it will also jell in the refrigerator.
Of course, if you're roasting a boneless turkey breast, and you haven't got a carcass in the freezer, you can use store-bought turkey or chicken stock (or broth).
It's best to pull off as much meat as you can before simmering the carcass. There's no point cooking it twice—especially if it was overcooked to begin with. If you're freezing the carcass, pull off the meat first and freeze it separately.
The recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of leftover turkey meat, and it should be a cinch to harvest that much meat from your turkey carcass. Of course you can add more if you like an especially meaty soup.
- 1 turkey carcass from a roasted turkey, with extra meat removed
- 1 onion
- 1 bay leaf, dry or fresh
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 celery ribs, diced
- 8 ounces wide egg noodles (or other dried pasta)
- 1 1/2 cups cooked turkey meat, diced
- Kosher salt and ground white pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- Place the turkey carcass (or portion thereof) in a stockpot along with a quartered onion and a bay leaf. Cover with cold water, bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for three hours.
- Remove the carcass and set it aside. Meanwhile strain the liquid, rinse out the pot and then return the liquid to the pot. You can put the bay leaf back in. Bring it to a boil, then add the carrots and celery. Simmer until the carrots are not-quite-soft.
- Now add the noodles, and cook until al dente, the timing of which will depend on the variety of pasta you're using. Follow the package instructions!
- Add the turkey meat, and simmer until it is heated through. Season with Kosher salt and ground white pepper. Serve right away in bowls garnished with the chopped parsley. For a nice touch, especially during the colder months, warm up the bowls before you ladle the soup in.