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Hearty Turkey Frame Soup

Hearty Turkey Frame Soup, Hearty Turkey Frame Soup

It’s not leftovers that are wasteful, but those who either don’t know what to do with them or can’t be bothered.

Julian Baggini

After that delicious Thanksgiving feast, we are often left with a turkey frame many people throw away. Here is a hearty and yummy turkey frame soup recipe that puts to good use to your leftovers.

Growing up in a French household, very little food was thrown out. My mom, growing up in France during World War II, spoke often about how much soup they ate. What little food they had needed to be stretched thin, and soup was the best route to do that. Spoiled vegetables or tough meat could be cooked for a long time in a soup and fed to the family for several meals. Bones are often used to enhance the broth.

One thing that is always obvious when traveling abroad is how little of the animal is wasted in other countries. There are times when there are some strange things on the menu, such as pig heads, goat brains, beef tongues, chicken feet, intestines, tendons, kidney and even pig ears. Having grown up in a European household, I have been served many of those and still enjoy a few. I will say, I do not cook any of these myself, but the concept of having little waste is in my blood.

A Post-Thanksgiving Family Tradition

Hearty Turkey Frame Soup, Hearty Turkey Frame Soup
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We always cooked a big turkey for Thanksgiving, and it always seemed a shame to throw away the carcass when there was still a bit of meat on it. Several decades ago, I came across a recipe that used the turkey frame. In my first attempts, I felt the recipe lacked something. Over time, I have come up with aa much more flavorful and rich version. I thought this would be a fun recipe to share with our readers when making the soup.

As we began having young children again in the family, I was curious if they would be fans of the soup. I report that after several years, they have come to even ask for it. One part that is even more attractive to them is the egg noodles, which also provide more protein.

Choosing the right base

Hearty Turkey Frame Soup, Hearty Turkey Frame Soup

In the original recipe, it was water with chicken bouillon cubes added. Even with the turkey frame added, it still lacked good flavor. Later, I tried it with chicken broth; it was an improvement but was still missing something. I started using quality store-bought chicken stock or bone broth; what a difference! I tried to make chicken stock, but I did not feel there was much of a difference for all the added work and expense.

A perfect way to empty the fridge

Hearty Turkey Frame Soup, Hearty Turkey Frame Soup
Adobe stock image

In the Turkey soup batch featured in the photos, I used every vegetable I have in the fridge, some that were getting old and a bag of kale and cabbage I had for salad but never used. I also put green onions leftover from another recipe and bag of frozen broccoli I have had too long. All went into the soup and the standard carrots, celery, etc.

One of the strongest things I learned over time is not to put the egg noodles into the stock pot of soup. After a while, the noodles became mushy and soggy. I cook the egg noodles about a minute less than the package instructions and then keep them in a separate container until I prepare that meal’s servings.

Sharing the soup

What makes this soup so fun is you can make a big batch with a nice-sized turkmeal’sme. It makes it easy to put in a Tupperware to share with family and friends. It also easily freezes and can make a wonderful meal during a cold winter evening, or save some to bring to friends who get a terrible cold.

I hope you enjoy this easy and hearty soup. Please feel free to leave any comments or suggestions below. Share your pictures if you wish.

Let’s get cooking!

Hearty Turkey Frame Soup, Hearty Turkey Frame Soup

Hearty Turkey Frame Soup

After a delicious turkey feast, we are often left with a turkey frame and lots of meat. A long-time family tradition is to make delicious soup out of what most throw away. Growing up in a French household, it was important never to let any food go to waste. This soup carries on that tradition.
It is healthy, hearty, and packed with protein. The recipe is simple and a great way to use all those veggies you have in your fridge too. It freezes well and is easy to share.
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 15 minutes
Course Brunch, Main Course, Soup
Cuisine American
Servings 16 bowls
Calories 150 kcal

Equipment

  • Large Stock Pot 12-16 quart

Ingredients
  

  • 4 quarts Chicken Stock or Bone Broth Avoid chicekn broth unless there is no other choice
  • 1 Meaty Turkey Frame
  • 2 Turkey Leg bones if available
  • 2 quarts Water
  • 1 large Onion in quarters
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 2 16-ounce cans Cut up tomatoes with Italian spices
  • 1 tsp Pepper, fine ground
  • 1 tbsp Dried oregano
  • 2 tsp Dried thyme
  • 1 tsp Dried Basil
  • 6-8 cups Fresh or frozen chopped vegetables such as carrots, celery, onion, rutabaga, mushroom, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, zucchini, yellow squash, peppers, etc. You pick whatever you wish.
  • Any Turkey meat, leftover This is optional if you want a meatier soup
  • 1 handful Fresh chopped parsley
  • 1-2 pkgs Egg noodles

Instructions
 

  • Cut the turkey frame in half to fit into the stock pot. if you are using leg bones put those in too. Place your quartered onion into the stock pot. Pour in the chicken stock or bone broth. Add water and salt. Heat to boiling over high heat; reduce heat to low. Cover; and simmer 1 hour 30 minutes.
  • Remove the turkey frame and any other bones and place them on a platter to cool.
  • Once cool enough to handle, remove all the meat and coarsely chop. Be careful to look for small bones and remove turkey skin if you come across any.
  • You can strain the broth, return it to the stock pot or, remove onions with tongs.
  • Add to the broth turkey meat, undrained tomatoes, oregano, thyme, basil, and pepper.
  • Stir in all the vegetables. Bring to a boil then reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes.
  • Cook egg noodles per package instructions, except reduce cooking time by one minute. Drain and set aside.
  • Season to taste. Add fresh parsley. Serve hot, and add the desired amount of egg noodles to the soup. Keep egg noodles in a separate container so they do not become mushy in the soup.
  • ENJOY!

Notes

Tips:
  1. Often, we have little pieces of turkey meat that won’t be good for sandwiches. Since we prefer a meaty soup, we tend to most of the leftover breast meat into the soup. 
  2. A big stock pot is ideal, so the liquid circulates well around the turkey frame.
  3. We usually have an 18-20 pound turkey. If your turkey is smaller, you can reduce the liquid, spices, and vegetables appropriately. 
  4. Using chicken stock or bone broth makes for a much more flavorful soup and richer in protein. Bouillion cubes in the water could be used, but we do not suggest that. 
  5. We never add the egg noodles into the full pot. They do get soggy and mushy over time. We heat the soup on the stove and microwave it, then add the noodles prior to serving. 
  6. Barley is a good alternative to egg noodles. 
  7. Be careful with the salt. It is better to have someone add salt to their individual serving than over-salting the whole pot of soup.
  8. The soup freezes well. You can add egg noodles to the soup when freezing a single portion. 
  9. Adding apple cider vinegar when adding the turkey frame is suggested by many. Not something I have done but is a popular additive. Hearty Turkey Frame Soup, Hearty Turkey Frame Soup
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