Sunday, December 12, 2010

Turkey Soup with Barley and Mushrooms

Soup is good food....

ahhh, Thanksgiving...the holiday that keeps on giving. At least the leftovers do...

How good is turkey soup ? I mean, chicken soup is great and all...but there is just something about turkey soup. So rich, so flavorful...just so good. Growing up, my aunts in Maine made the best turkey rice soup on earth - probably the most requested dinner by the various cousins staying at the house (myself included). Whatever might be wrong in your world, this soup would fix. Once old enough to make my own soups, the turkey rice was one of the first I did...and I have to say, I really got it down. (When my sister was staying at the hospital with my newborn nephew, she wouldn't eat anything except my soup). Eventually, though, we needed to alternate with something a bit different...enter barley. Barley just elevates turkey soup to the stratosphere - the richness of the turkey complements the nutty barley perfectly. And mushrooms and barley are just so good together...

For this one, rather than a recipe I'm just going to give you the general method I follow. If you'd like more specific directions, definitely email me. (The Anadama Bread I made with it - included in the photograph - will be written up as a separate entry, because that's got a pretty cool story behind it).

My method of making soup out of leftover birds - Thanksgiving birds in particular - is a bit, well, odd. This, I am sure, will surprise no one that knows me. :). Since we tend to cook ridiculously large birds around here (26 pounds, this year) I've discovered I'm better off splitting the goods into two soups - for one thing, half a giant bird is a heck of a lot easier to fit in a stockpot. We basically pick and pick until we can't look at the carcass anymore, and then I take my poultry shears and split whatever's left in two. (I have the most amazing German-made poultry shears, inherited from my grandmother...those bad boys will cut through anything). The halves go in to heavy duty freezer bags until I'm willing to say the word "turkey" again.

Once the muse strikes me (like, say, on a rainy Sunday full of Christmas shopping and a late Patriots game) , I take one of my turkey-sicles and throw it into a stockpot (still frozen), with a handful of tiny onions or a couple of small ones (skin on) and plenty of salt and pepper. I add enough water to cover, bring everything to a boil, and turn it down to a simmer. I then start my bread and get on with my afternoon.

An hour and a half to two hours later, I turn off the turkey pot and start chopping some vegetables..usually leeks, carrots and celery in equal amounts, maybe two cups of each. I start these in a clean stockpot in which I've melted about half a stick of unsalted butter, and saute them until they start to cook down a bit. (I picked up this tip from the Silver Palate - it really makes a huge difference in the flavor). I add salt and pepper again, then measure in eight cups of broth from the turkey pot and a cup of barley, bring it to a boil, and reduce it to a simmer.

Once the turkey remains in the other pot are cool enough to handle (okay, truthfully I always end up burning my fingers a bit :) ), I collect up all the usable meat from the stockpot, stripping it off the bones and chopping it up a little if needed. I also slip the onions out of the skins, and I add all the good turkey and onion parts to the simmering pot with the vegetables, stock and barley. I taste it at this point, and if I feel like the broth isn't strong enough I'll add 2 - 4 Knorr's Chicken Bouillon cubes (yes, it has to be Knorr's...everything else is just salt and yuck). The last step is to slice up about a cup of mushrooms and add them to the pot. If you feel like the soup needs more broth, add a few ladlefuls of whatever is left from your turkey stock pot, or use chicken stock - broth ratio is a personal preference, we tend to do it a little thick around here - make it however you like it, it's your soup ! In any event, once the mushrooms are cooked to your liking the soup is done.

Soup is, indeed, good food....

1 comment:

  1. And you are indeed an awesome cook and a great writer! I love the photograph on the black background too! Way to rock the bird!