12 - Turkey Soup

I’ve been making this since my earliest turkey roasting days. The recipe appeared in the New York Times in 1973 in John Hess’s column, but the recipe is written by his wife Karen.

I’ve always thought this the most brilliant, economical and delicious of soups. The first task is to save every bit of the carcass—this means that after the first carving—you put any bones you put the bulk of the carcass in the freezer—and as you work your way through the turkey, you remember to rinse and then add all leftover bones, bits of skin, etc.

In a few days, if not sooner, you will be ready to make your soup. Break the carcass into pot-sized pieces—add all the bones, any scraps, any leftover gravy (there rarely is any)—cover with cold water and gradually bring to a boil.

Turn down to a gentle simmer an add one or two teaspoons salt, three or four carrots, two onions, some celery, especially the leafy tops, a little thyme, a bay leaf, a fistful of parsley, peppercorns, whatever.

Simmer with the lid slightly askew for two or three hours. Strain—tossing all vegetables and bones. Set aside to refrigerate—don’t cover broth until it’s cold because due to various chemical mysteries, this will cause it to sour. Refrigerate. When it’s well chilled, the fat will congeal and can be removed before proceeding.

The above is prelude. The creation of the basic broth. We are now ready to make the soup and the fabulous accompanying butter dumplings.

Thinly slice a couple of onions, three or four carrots, and two or three sticks of celery, with leaves. You can of course use leeks, or scallions. Sauté in butter until they are soft. Add to the broth, adding a good handful of finely chopped parsley and salt and pepper if necessary.

While the soup quietly sits, you will make the dumplings. Set on another big pot of water to boil.

In a small heavy pan bring to a boil one cup of water—with one teaspoon salt. Melt ½ cup butter in the water.

Off the heat, add 1 cup sifted flour and a few scrapings of nutmeg, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon. Put back on stove and stir until it’s well mixed and pulls away from the sides—this is usually very fast. While continuing beating add three eggs, one at a time, beating vigorously after each egg.

By now the pot of water should be boiling merrily, turn it down so it is just simmering.

Take two teaspoons, one each hand, dip them into a small bowl of cold water and with one, scoop up a spoonful of dough. With the other spoon, round it smoothly, shift it back and forth until you have a smooth oval. Slip that into the simmering water, and keep repeating till you’ve used all dough.
If the water boils, there are dire warnings about disintegrating dumplings. In two or three minutes the dumplings should rise to the surface and can be moved into the hot soup, served and eaten.

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