Who’s the Turkey?

*originally posted  10/18/10 by  Emjayandthem

Mom was visiting us for the Thanksgiving holiday and we had no less than 17 guests in attendance. I’d been cooking for three days already so the fridge was stocked to the rafters, the garage fridge was jammed, and every spare counter-top seemed to hold a pie or appetizer.

Afterwards, while packing up the leftovers, Mom started to cover what was left of the 26 lb turkey.  I began to explain that I wasn’t keeping it when I saw a look of abject horror cross her face.  She tried to suppress it but there it was. Guiltily, I scraped the last of the turkey bones into the garbage. Later I tried to dodge the issue by explaining that we just didn’t have room to which she softly replied, “No turkey soup? That makes the most wonderful turkey soup you know.”

Of course I knew that. I grew up knowing that.  On the farm, mom made soup all the time; hearty hamburger soups during harvest, ham soup after Easter dinner, creamy potato soup, chicken noodle soup, you name it soup.  Soup was a staple in our home. Soup was a bowlful of loving care and not saved just for head colds or cold wintry days.


A few days later, after many hugs and tears, I put her on the plane back to her prairie home and reflected on what I’d nearly missed.  That week I bought a rotisserie chicken, cooked it down and made homemade soup, for the first time in years. Hubby thought he’d hit Nirvana! Next came beef & rice soup, beef vegetable soup,  chicken tortilla soup, ham & bean soup, you name it soup. More soup than you can ever eat! Guilt begets soup? In my case, yes, yes it did.

Flash forward to the next Thanksgiving: we were all gathered at a relative’s home and, for once, I wasn’t in charge of the meal.  Later, as we cleaned up, there it was:  what remained of the turkey.   As I started to cover it with foil, our hostess commented, “Oh we’re not keeping that.”  A look of abject horror crossed my face that I tried, but failed, to suppress.  “No turkey soup? That makes the most wonderful turkey soup you know.”

It was at that moment that I knew. I knew that all Mom wanted me to do was to look and really see what I was doing.  Slow down.  Re-examine. See the value in what’s before you.

I get it. Thanks Mom.

Me & Mom. an emjayandthem photo

MJ’s Turkey Soup:

Place all leftover bones and meat into a large stockpot, fill with water about 1/2 full. Add chopped onion & celery, seasonings (I use Mrs. Dash and a bit of garlic, salt & pepper).  Bring to a boil and then cover and let simmer for about 2  hours, or until all meat has fallen from the bone.  Remove from heat and carefully spoon out bones and discard.  When the broth and remaining meat has cooled, shred turkey into bite sized pieces and place back into the stock.

Add 1 chicken bouillon cube and whatever chopped vegetables or noodles you like. I add:  peas & carrots, shredded cabbage, more celery and onions, canned (chopped) tomatoes, corn, diced potatoes, rice or egg noodles (not usually all 3).  Bring to a boil until vegetables are cooked.  Season to taste.

Wonderful, economical and tastes like home.


Categories: Determination, Faith, Family, Food, Holidays, Home | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

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23 thoughts on “Who’s the Turkey?

  1. Will make that with tomorrow’s leftovers! Thanks for the reminder to slow down 🙂

    • Yum Yum! I might not make turkey soup this weekend, but I will make the broth & such and probably freeze it for a later date. It freezes GREAT 🙂 MJ

  2. Love, love this story! Well written and it’s message is perfect for today. Thank you for the recipe, too, filled with MJ goodness.

  3. Wonderful post! I, too, have been guilty of throwing away the turkey carcass–unless my sister-in-law is present, in which case SHE salvages it and takes it home with her for her own soup. Not any more! And I may just give your recipe a try–sounds delicious! Happy Thanksgiving!

    • It’s easy… and the best part? If you don’t really want soup just yet, cook it down anyways and freeze the turkey bits & broth. In January when the wind is howling and you want some home-made goodness, just defrost, add veggies and Voila – love in a bowl 🙂

      Happy Thanksgiving, Karen

  4. I guess it didn’t hit me till today…coming here, to your blog, especially today… it’s like coming home.
    I can almost smell the different soups. Please come make us some, your pick. Don’t care.
    Man, to come in from the fields to a meal someone else has made. I wish I’d never taken that for granted! I’ve realized in the past 7 years why someone always stayed back…to feed the rest of us. It takes a lot more “planning” to do both *jobs*. I’ve just got to get a new crock pot so I can feel comfortable leaving the house in the morning knowing I won’t come back to ??? 🙂
    Please, if you would, share your hamburger soup recipe someday. I would love to make that with the deer burger I’ve got plenty of.
    p.s. Totally can see where you’re getting your stunning eyes! Wow.

    • Aww, that is sure a very nice thing to say, D. Thank you. You are welcome here anytime.

      I love soup and all that it represents — I will probably use up some of today’s leftovers (cooking now and the house smells a-maz-ing!) in my soup. And if I run out of time, I’ll just prepare the stock (broth) and bits and freeze them for later, making the soup another day.

      Hamburger soup is easy to make – brown the burger with aromatic veggies – onion, celery, fresh garlic, etc. You can make your own beef broth by cooking down soup bones but if you’re not inclined to do that (get them from the butcher), just use canned beef broth. You want to take the browned burger & veggies, pour in about 5-6 cups of broth and then add in other veggies that you/your family enjoy. Bring to a rolling boil and let simmer for about an hour, seasoning to taste. For hamburger soup, I like to add: canned (diced) tomatoes, corn, a bit of barley, fresh brocoslaw (shredded broccoli, carrots, and cabbage … sold in the Lettuce section) and more celery/onion. I season with Mrs. Dash, a bit of Lawry’s salt and pepper. This makes a hearty, healthy soup that all can enjoy!

      Cheers to you!

      PS – it’s not the best photo of me, but I love that she’s in it and that makes it a keeper!

  5. It’s not turkey time in Canada, but I would love to link to this post just before Christmas. It’s a keeper.

  6. Mom’s really do know best…..all the time! How DO they do that??!

    • Yes they do .. it’s usually us kids that are slow on the uptake, they often have things figured out long before we know there’s an issue! 🙂 MJ

  7. yep, My ,mom has the same effect on me. 🙂

  8. Moms are always so wise. Eventually, we ‘get’ that, don’t we? Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving.

    • I think so, too … and yes, hopefully we all “get” it! Had a very relaxed Thanksgiving, hope yours was fun and happy as well 🙂 MJ

  9. Mmmm! Your soup sounds yummy. It IS hard to go to “all the trouble” of making homemade soup sometimes. There are so many other things on that eternal to-do list. But as you’ve discovered, I usually find that taking the time to make something homemade is well worth the effort.

    • Yep … I hear you, Terri. I didn’t really feel like making it this weekend (the soup) so I just boiled down the carcass and made the broth & bits and froze them for later. In January, when the wind is howling and nothing sounds good, I’ll have all I need to start a hearty soup 🙂


  10. Ok, I’ll admit…I’m a big soup maker, but I don’t keep my turkey bones either! My husband does the work of pulling off the excess meat, what’s left after the turkey is carved for the big feast. Then we use it for sandwiches or just to warm up with leftovers. But by the time I’m done with all the traditional foods of the meal…I just don’t have it in me to face another big job. Maybe one day! ~ Sheila

    • I understand what you’re saying, Sheila — I did cook down the bones & meat and ended up freezing it … I’ll make the soup on another day 🙂 MJ

  11. Pingback: Random Five … Sunday | Emjayandthem's Blog

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