Thanksgiving was a sacred holiday in my family growing up. There were a series of rituals, smells, sounds and foods we knew we could expect each and every year without fail. The Macy’s Day Parade on TV in the background. Pillsbury biscuits with lots of butter. Stuffed mushrooms. Glazed sweet potatoes. And at least one person lighting themselves on fire by accident.
One of the foods that always made an appearance occurred after Thanksgiving itself: leftover turkey noodle soup that my dad would make with the remaining turkey carcass. And it almost always happened the Saturday right after Thanksgiving for a warming lunch.
There is so much meat and flavor still left on the carcass of the turkey, and it’s a great way to use up some of that leftover meat. Throw in some fresh veggies and aromatics, and you have a dish that isn’t just leftovers, it’s bestovers. In my version I add some matzah balls for good measure, but of course, add or subtract what you like. I have even been known to drive home from my in-laws with a few tin-foil wrapped turkey carcasses sitting in the back seat.
Not making a turkey this year? You can also make turkey stock from some turkey necks, turkey wings and/or turkey drumsticks – whatever is cheap and available.
Leftover Turkey Noodle Soup with Matzah Balls
- 1-2 leftover turkey carcasses
- 4 quarts cold water
- 2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 large onion (or 2 small onions)
- 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
- 4 stalks of celery
- 2 parsnips
- 1 turnip
- 2-3 garlic cloves
- 1 bunch fresh parsley
- 1 bunch fresh dill
- a few sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 Tbsp whole peppercorns
- salt to taste
- leftover turkey meat for serving
- cooked egg noodles (optional)
- matzah balls for serving (optional)
- Place all ingredients in large stockpot and cover with cold water and stock (add additional water and/or stock if needed). Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium.
- Simmer for 2 hours, skimming the top of the soup to remove fat and any scum that rises to the top.
- Remove turkey and vegetables and set aside. Simmer again on low-medium heat for another 30-45 minutes until stock has reduced just slightly and flavor is rich.
- Season with salt to taste.
- Serve with the cooked carrots, diced leftover turkey meat, cooked egg noodles and matzah balls if desired.