Meaty turkey bones: DO NOT throw them away!

In today’s Seasonal Pantry, I sing the praises of the turkey carcass and the delicious stock you can make from it. You can read that column here.

Over the years, I’ve published many recipes that call for turkey stock. Here are a few of my very favorites.

Bread Soup with Turkey & Sage

Basic Lentil Soup, try it with turkey stock

Turkey Risotto  •  Serves 3 to 4

These two recipes appeared in November of 2003, before Seasonal Pantry was archived on line. It was paired with Kosta Brown Pinto Noir, an excellent companion.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 ounces guanciale, unsliced pancetta, or unsliced bacon, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups Carnaroli rice
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper in a mill
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh sage leaves
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 5 to 6 cups turkey stock, hot (recipe follows)
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked dark turkey meat, shredded
  • 3 ounces smoked goat feta or dry Jack cheese cheese, grated
  • Fresh sage leaves, for garnish
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large, deep saucepan set over medium heat, add the guanciale, pacetta, or bacon and cook until it is tender and translucent.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer the meat to a small plate.
  2. Add the onion and saute until it is soft and fragrant, about 8 minutes.
  3. Add the rice and sauté for 2 minutes, stirring continuously, until each grain begins to turn milky white.
  4. Season with salt and pepper, add the sage and cranberries, and stir.
  5. Begin to add the stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring after each addition until all of the liquid is absorbed.  Continue adding stock and stirring until the rice is just tender but not at all mushy, about 18 to 20 minutes.
  6. Just before making the final addition of stock, stir in the guanciale, turkey meat and cheese, add the remaining stock, taste, and adjust the seasoning.
  7. Ladle into warmed soup plates, garnish with fresh sage leaves, and serve immediately.

Basic Turkey Stock • Makes about 8 to 10 cups

  •  1 cooked turkey carcass, large pieces of meat removed
  • Neck, giblets, or other leftover turkey parts
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 medium sprig (6 to 8 leaves) fresh sage
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  1. Put the turkey carcass, other turkey parts, bay leaves, sage sprig, and peppercorns in a large soup pot with 4 quarts of water, set over high heat, bring to a boil, and reduce the heat to medium low.
  2. Skim off and discard any foam that forms on top and simmer, partially covered, for about 6 hours, until the turkey falls apart.
  3. Strain the stock through a fine sieve or a strainer lined with cheesecloth; discard everything but the stock and let it cool to room temperature.
  4. Skim off the fat on the surface of the stock and discard it.  There should be 8 to 10 cups of stock; add water if necessary, or simmer over medium heat until reduced to the correct amount.
  5. Use immediately, cool and refrigerate for 3 or 4 days, or freeze for up to 6 months.

Turkey Barley Soup • Serves 4 to 6

My mother had a single soup in her cooking repertoire, this one, which she made the day after Thanksgiving and the day after Christmas. I begged her to make it at other times, but she never did, and it became a holiday tradition as enchanting as the glittering tree and a stocking filled with surprises. Now, I don’t always wait until the holidays; I often make this with 2 or 3 turkey thighs, which I roast in the oven first. Sometimes I make it using Willie Bird’s smoked turkey legs. I also use a roux in place of my mother’s leftover gravy.  If you have leftover gravy, by all means use it. If not, using a roux will add structure to the soup, though it is not absolutely essential. To make the soup without roux, sauté the onions and carrots in a little fat (olive oil, butter, or poultry fat) until they are very tender, about 15 minutes.

  • 8 to 10 cups turkey stock (see recipe, this page)
  • 1/2 cup duck fat, turkey fat, olive oil, or butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 yellow onions, minced
  • 3 carrots, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper in a mill
  • 4 cups left-over turkey meat, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  1. First, make the turkey stock, if you have not already done so.
  2. Heat the fat, oil, or butter in a large, heavy soup pot, and set over medium-low heat until the fat begins to smoke.  Using a long-handled wooden spoon or metal whisk, stir the flour, about 2 tablespoons at a time, into the hot oil.  Whisk or stir constantly until the flour begins to color evenly.  When the flour is medium golden brown, remove it from the heat and stir in the onions and carrots.  Continue to stir for 3 or 4 minutes as the roux cools and ceases to darken. Season with salt and pepper and return to medium heat.
  3. Pour about a cup of stock into the roux and stir with a whisk until the mixture is smooth; add 2 cups and stir again.  Add the remaining stock and simmer over low heat for about an hour.   Add the turkey meat and barley, and simmer until the barley is tender, about 25 minutes.  Taste, season with salt and pepper, and serve.  The soup can be cooled, refrigerated, and reheated; it’s flavor will improve for 3 or 4 days.