Making Turkey Soup – The Soup Metaphor

It was the day after Christmas and the coffee tasted good and the turkey soup was started. It takes two dutch ovens to put all the bones and bits into. I add the rest of the celery and whole bunch of herbs and spices. I have a secret one – well not so very secret but….it makes the soup special!  turkey carcss

I had an epiphanette that soup is a great metaphor for how we can/do live our lives. This works for any soup but for me, turkey soup is a good metaphor for my life.

I start the soup before I even cook the turkey. My stuffing recipe (see below) uses sausage, onions and celery that is cooked before being put into the bird. I use a 6 litre (6 US Quarts) dutch oven for this because it also fits the bread etc. to mix it all together. I put the celery bits and onion ends aside then, when the stuffing is in the bird and the pot is empty, I put the veggies in the pot and put it aside for much later. That’s kind of like life. There’s always something that was put aside before you were even made and it helps make you good!

The rest doesn’t happen until the turkey is done. I always cook the neck in the roaster but it’s for the soup pot. It’s the metaphor for my parents sticking their necks out in making their first child – ME! OK, that’s a little lame but it works, doesn’t it? Well, when I’ve emptied the stuffing out of the turkey and am letting it sit before carving, I put the neck in the pot along with any big bits and pieces in the roaster. I use the water from the potatoes (and in my family there are a lot of potatoes and these are done in the 5 litre dutch oven which will be pot #2 for the soup) to de-glaze the roaster for gravy but there is lots of cooking water so it goes into the soup pot, too. See, a good metaphor wastes nothing.

At this stage the turkey is carved, mounds of mashed potatoes put into serving dishes as well as the stuffing, Fireball Yams, corn, etc. then served up to drooling family. OK, after the feast there is the stripping of the turkey carcass and sharing of the leftovers. Just like in real life – we are all nice to each other then later pick each other apart but insist it’s only for the good.

A Pope's Nose for the soup!

A Pope’s Nose
for the soup!

While removing all the extra turkey for future sandwiches, a la kings, and tacos; all the bits go into the soup pot. I’ve emptied the mashed potato pot, too so I will be using both. What are the bits that make the soup? The same ones that make a person an interesting one – wing tips, skin, bones, the dark meat family won’t eat – like most of the legs. The neck and the Pope’s nose, (the tail, my Nana always called it the Pope’s nose. I guess there once was a Pope with a nose shaped like a turkey’s tail.) all the skin and chewy bits we won’t eat, they all go in. This is when I fill and turn on the kettle. The carcass is down to bones. They all go into the pot. It doesn’t matter if there is lots of meat on the bones. That will be in the soup later. Because I make 15 lb. turkeys, I have to break the carcass in two and put half in each pot. I then sprinkle the essential herbs and spices over the mess. Sage, poultry seasoning, thyme, celery seed, rosemary from the garden if I have it, pepper, and the secret ingredient (some curry powder) – all add to the mix. No sugar with the spice but definitely everything nice. What is life without some spice?

A Pope's nose from a VW Bug.Not for the soup!

A Pope’s nose from a VW Bug.
Not for the soup!

I cover all of this with water, I even clean out the gravy pot with the boiling water and in it goes, too. I simmer these pots for hours after dinner and the house smells wonderful again. The good doesn’t end with the white meat but promises more to come. See the metaphor is working, right? But it’s now too late to finish the soup so it goes outside to be kept cold. I always worry about spoilage and food poisoning and as with life, you must take care that nothing gets contaminated. I must be vigilant at all times. So, because it is winter in Canada, my deck is always under 3 degrees Celsius (36 F) and I put the pots out on the deck (it’s covered) to keep refrigerated.

Like a good life, it is complicated and takes time and care to make the best of what a lot of people would throw out. The next day I bring it all to a boil again and let it simmer for at least an hour depending on how long it simmered the night before. I have turned the bones and when they fall apart it is time to turn it all off and cool down a bit.

Cooling lets me get my hands in there again. Life isn’t good unless you get your hands dirty at some point. The next step uses a big colander and bowl. I strain the smaller pot into the bowl and pour the liquid back into the pot. It’s now real turkey broth. I then sort through the stuff in the colander. The edible meat goes back into broth and the ugly and inedible bits go into the garbage. I do the same with the second pot and all the broth ends up in one pot with great little turkey bits in it. The garbage is all removed and out of sight. (Hmmm, metaphoric?)

I can freeze it here or finish the soup for consumption. Hell, life is to live. I heat the broth up to a slow simmer and add a whole lot of raw potatoes, cubed, the left over corn and carrots – if there are any and maybe even some pasta. When the potatoes are done the soup is, too. I check for taste and almost always add salt. I know it’s not good for you but it is a flavour enhancer and according to those around me, I’m a wee bit salty, too. Okay, maybe my language is.

It is what you make of it. I now have to put some aside for each of my daughters because they love my soup and deserve a part of me. They are definitely part of my life. Rich, seasoned, full of vegetables and meat – yep, a good metaphor for my life. Comfort food that takes lots of labour and love.

Thanks for listening. ;D Diane


Fills a 20-25 pound turkey, front and back!

1 lb bulk sausage (I use Glenwood’s)
3 big ribs celery and most of the middle leaves – chopped
1 medium or 2 small onions – chopped
6-8 cups of slightly stale bread – cubed (1/2”)  – multi grain, anything, even left over buns, etc.
1 cup chicken broth or OXO
1 tsp pepper
1 – 2 tsp poultry seasoning
2- 3 tsp sage
(for the last 2 spices, sprinkle when it comes time, mix and smell, if it smells like stuffing it’s good!)

Brown sausage in a big frying pan or dutch oven.  Add onions and celery and stir until the onions turn translucent.  Turn off the heat.  Add some bread cubes and mix to absorb any drippings.  If you are using a frying pan, transfer to a very large bowl.  Mix in more bread cubes and add broth as needed.  You can change how much bread and broth depending on the size of the turkey.  Sprinkle the spices over and keep mixing.  Take a sniff.

Turkey should be rinsed and patted dry inside the neck cavity and the inside. Sprinkle a bit of salt in the cavities.  Fill the neck one first and pull or sew the flap closed then fill the body.  Sew or cover with tinfoil and tuck the legs back in.  Take all the stuffing out immediately when you take the turkey out of the oven, even before letting it stand for 15 minutes.  This stuffing is good in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


~ by 1fatgirlshrinking - Diane Kirby on December 28, 2012.

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