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TIP OF THE DAY: Make Turkey Stock

Turn your turkey carcass into turkey stock
or turkey soup. Photo by Marius Zjbie |


Years back, we were very friendly with the owner of New York City’s most famous delicatessen. Among other secrets, he told us that the restaurant’s chicken soup was actually turkey soup.

Why? Because the kitchen roasted several turkeys every day for turkey sandwiches (including our favorite combo: turkey, roast beef and chopped liver). What to do with all the leftover carcasses? Make turkey soup, which was called chicken soup on the menu. No one could tell the difference.

Why not just call it turkey soup? Because most customers aren’t accustomed to the concept of “turkey soup”; they want chicken soup. In industry terms, it wasn’t a bait-and-switch; most “pumpkin” pie is made with a different orange squash, among other secrets of the trade.

You can make either turkey stock or turkey soup with your turkey carcass. We typically make stock, taking advantage of the opportunity to make a lot of it from the large carcass. After all, if you’re going to simmer bones for four hours, would you rather end up with one pint of stock or four pints?


Stock Preparation

1. REMOVE all the meat from the turkey carcass. It’s OK if small bits remain.

2. BREAK up the bones of the carcass so they’ll fit in the pot. Place the bones and skin in a large stock pot and cover with cold water by an inch. You can the neck, heart and gizzard (but not the liver). Add a yellow onion that has been quartered, some chopped carrots, parsley, thyme, a bay leaf, celery tops, and some peppercorns.

3. BRING to a boil and immediately reduce heat to a bare simmer—as low as you can make the flame.

4. SIMMER for at least 4 hours, uncovered or partially uncovered (so the stock reduces). At intervals, skim off the foam that rises to the surface. You can reduce the stock as much as you like by continuing to simmer it, uncovered. The more reduced, the more concentrated the flavor (and the less there is to store).

5. REMOVE the bones and and strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer.



If you’d rather make soup than stock, add seasonings to the pot at the beginning of cooking:

  • Sliced carrots, celery (and the celery tops), yellow onion. How much should you add? It’s a matter of taste. We use a lot: The more vegetables, the more layering of flavors.
  • Herbs: we use lots of dill and parsley; other options include bay leaf and thyme; and 5-10 peppercorns.
  • Salt to taste. Start with 1 tablespoon; taste later in the process and adjust as needed.
    When ready to serve, warm pieces of leftover turkey in the soup and add noodles, rice, and any vegetables. We lightly steam carrots, celery and onions in the microwave; then add them to the soup along with the turkey, as we reheat it.


    Want more veggies in your soup? Steam them lightly in the microwave, Then add them to the soup when you reheat it. Photo courtesy Grandma’s Chicken Soup.



    Stock (as well as soup and broth) can be made from any meat or seafood, and from vegetables as well.

  • Stock is made from simmering the bones and connective tissue. It tends to have a fuller mouth feel and richer flavor, due to the gelatin/collagen* released by simmering the bones for several hours. Stock is not seasoned (e.g., no salt or vegetables); its purpose is to serve as a neutral base for soups and sauces that will in turn be seasoned. When it cools, stock is thick and gelatinous, a quality that makes it better than broth for deglazing a pan (it can be used instead of butter or cream to make sauce from the pan juices). Stock is also used for cooking grains and vegetables, for glazing, poaching, roasting and in recipes.
  • Soup is a finished dish made from meat (e.g., cooking raw chicken parts).
  • Broth is soup that is strained to remove all solids; some people serve seasoned stock as broth. Broth is not thickened, while soup can be. Classic French recipes often add a splash of wine.
    *The collagen gelatinizes at around 165°F.


    Related Food Videos: For more food videos, check out The Nibble's Food Video Collection.

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