Spicy leftover turkey soup

Food & drink
How to use up leftover Christmas turkey in a soup

If Christmas Day brings the biggest meal of the year, it follows that Boxing Day must leave the most leftovers.

Nobody – NOBODY – gets this right.

The smallest turkey is simply too big for most average Christmas dinner tables, and the size of the bird seems to have a knock-on effect on the number of side dishes, and their size that get made to go with it.

There are people opening their fridges this morning, wondering what to do with all of that stuff, none of which looks quite as appetising as it did yesterday.

A turkey sandwich or two is an absolute must, and a Boxing Day breakfast involving a few of those cold sausages wrapped in bacon is strangely satisfying, but what of the veg?

This soup will help you dispose, sorry, re-purpose at least a kilo of assorted leftovers.  It’s Christmas dinner in a cup, with some spiciness added for good measure and to, well, make a change.

Leftover Turkey Soup

Start by frying four or five chopped rashers of streaky bacon and two finely sliced medium onions in a large pan over a moderate heat until the bacon browns and the onions start to soften and melt into themselves, turning sticky and golden.  If you don’t have bacon, but you do have leftover sausages, chop those up and use them instead.  The pig…it just keeps on giving.

Now for some veg.  It’s hard to be precise here, because everybody will have different things.  Use whatever you’ve got, but a roast potato or two will help to thicken the finished soup.  I used celeriac, carrots, sprouts done with some Worcester sauce, a few parsnips and some potato.  About 500g in total should be enough.

Add about the same weight of turkey meat, both white and dark meat, torn up into smallish chunks, and stir everything around for five or ten minutes.  Actually, on the turkey…breast meat has a tendency to be a bit dry when its cold, so veer more towards white meat rather than the juicier dark meat – in a soup, slightly dry white meat won’t matter, but it will in a sandwich.  Save the better dark meat for that.

Tear up a few sage leaves, and a few sprigs of thyme and add them to the pan, with a teaspoon or so of smoked paprika and a big pinch of cayenne.  Be careful with the paprika, as it comes in a variety of heats.  If you’re using a hotter variety, just moderate the amount you use and skip the cayenne.

Season with salt and pepper and stir everything around for a minute or two before adding about a litre of stock (you made that yesterday evening with the turkey carcass, right? Thought so).  If you’ve got some good gravy left over, add some of that, too.  If you just used gravy granules, skip this and feel ashamed.

Bring to the boil, then simmer for about fifteen minutes.

Let the soup cool off the heat for a while, then liquidise until smooth.  I tend to do this in two passes, so that the turkey meat is thoroughly obliterated and the soup is smooth.

Stir in a glug of cream and serve amidst the clutter left over from yesterday. You can clear up tomorrow.

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