Talkin’ Turkey (Soup with Brown Rice)

We spent Thanksgiving with some homeschooling friends this year. We had a lovely time, but not having a carcass to stew up left me with the sense that something was missing from the holiday. Luckily, turkey wings were on sale at Whole Foods last week. I bought six of them and stuck them in my freezer until the time was right to make soup.

The time happened to be right this morning.

What follows is an account of the tossed-together soup that I created, reported with as much accuracy as possible given that I took no notes during the process. I wonder sometimes if I should be more scientific about my recipe creation, keeping a lab notebook so there’s a chance that the results might be reproducible. Maybe some day. But not today.

Part 1: Turkey Stock

Makes 4 quarts.

Preparation time: about 3-4 hours (although it doesn’t have to be near that long. I left it simmering until after the baby’s nap, when I finally remembered it was simmering on the stove).


1-2 T canola oil

4 turkey wings (about 4 pounds)

2 large yellow onions (the ones we got from Costco), roughly chopped

~6 stalks of celery, roughly chopped

1 bulb garlic, pressed

~2/3 of a bunch of cilantro, rinsed and roughly chopped

1-2 T grated fresh ginger

Kosher salt

Heat oil in a large heavy-bottomed stockpot you bought at Crate and Barrel with a gift card your husband’s aunt and uncle sent for Christmas about three years ago over medium-high heat until shimmering. Drop in two frozen turkey wings. Brown on one side for a couple of minutes, then use tongs to turn them over to another side. Realize you probably should have thawed the turkey wings and put the remaining two turkey wings into the microwave to thaw while the first two are searing. When the second two turkey wings are thawed, wrestle the first two apart and push them to the sides of the pan, then add the thawed wings. Sear all wings on all sides.

Add all of the roughly-chopped vegetables and cook until the onions start to soften, stirring frequently. It will look kind of like this:

Seared turkey wings with chopped veggies underneath. Note the uneven searing. This may be important to the recipe.

Add five quarts of water and toss in some kosher salt. I really have no idea how much I put in.

It’ll look like this:

Stock before 3-4 hours of simmering.

Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to the lowest temp you can and still maintain a simmer. Go about your daily business, letting it simmer until you notice the yummy smell a few hours later and say, “Oh, wait! I’ve got turkey stock simmering!”

The stock is done with the meat falls off the bones when you go to use the tongs to put the turkey wings on a plate to cool. Pour the stock through a colander or mesh strainer into a large glass or metal container (something you won’t melt with hot stock). Let cool a bit, then either portion it into freezer-sized aliquots, or set aside for further soup prep. I ended up with roughly four quarts of stock. I’m guessing that the remaining quart is humidifying my home.

When the turkey wings are cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones, tear into bite-sized pieces and either refrigerate/freeze for later, or continue with soup prep.

Part 2: Soup


2 quarts turkey stock

Reserved turkey meat from four turkey wings (probably about 3-4 cups of bite-sized pieces)

1/2 large, yellow, Costco-sized onion, chopped

3 stalks celery, chopped

2 carrots, chopped (I would have liked to use about twice this many, but it turns out there were only two in the fridge when I went to get them)

2 handfuls frozen peas

4 cloves garlic, pressed

2 stems of fresh rosemary cut off of the tree you have decorating your dining room table, rinsed and chopped

1 healthy dash each of dried thyme and oregano (probably ~2 teaspoons each)

Sea salt

Fresh ground pepper

2 handfuls brown rice

Saute the onions, garlic, carrots, and celery in a little olive oil over medium heat until onions are soft. Add everything else. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, maintaining a simmer. Cover and simmer for about 45-60 minutes or until rice is done. Then it will look something like this:

The finished turkey soup with rice.

Feed it to your family and refrigerate the rest for lunches the next few days.

Split Pea Soup with Fresh Peas and Potatoes

(NaNoWriMo Day 26 Word Count: 48,072.)

We loved this soup. Well, the rest of the family liked it and ate it, but I loved it. I ate it for lunch for three days, and I was sad when it was gone. But then, I have a pretty emotional relationship with soup.

The way I made this, it was not vegetarian, but it can easily be made so by not adding the ham shank. But ham shank is really very yummy, so unless you’re really serious about your vegetarianism (or about keeping kosher or halal), I recommend the ham shank. Plus, it’s fun to say “ham shank.”


Split Pea Soup with Potatoes and Fresh Peas from Feeding the Whole Family; by Cynthia Lair

Reprinted from Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair (Sasquatch Books, 2008)

Prep time: 50 minutes in pressure-cooker; 1 hour 45 minutes in soup pot (I made ours in a soup pot)

Makes 4 servings (but I doubled the recipe when I made it because we like leftovers)

1 cup green split peas

1 T butter or extra-virgin olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 to 2 t sea salt

1 rib celery, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

2 small red potatoes, cubed

1 t ground cumin

Freshly ground pepper

4 c water or vegetable stock (I used chicken broth)

1 large bay leaf

1 small ham bone (optional; I used a Niman Ranch ham shank. This was another reason I doubled the recipe…there was more meat on the ham shank than I would have expected from just a ham bone. Also, Niman Ranch is yummy but it’s spendy, so I wanted to stretch it a bit)

2 t apple cider vinegar (I used rice vinegar; it’s what I had on hand)

1/2 c fresh or frozen peas

1 T snipped fresh dill or 1 t dried (now that I think of it, I think I forgot this)

Soak split peas 4 to 6 hours in 4 cups of water. This will help digestibility, quicken cooking time, and improve the texture of the soup. Discard soaking water.

Heat butter in a pressure cooker or 4-quart pot. Add onion and salt and saute until onion begins to soften. Add celery, carrot, potatoes, cumin, and pepper to taste; saute 3 to 4 minutes more. Add split peas, water, and bay leaf. Add ham bone, if using, and vinegar.

If pressure-cooking: Bring up to pressure on high heat, then lower heat and cook 40 minutes.

If using a soup pot: Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer 60 to 90 minutes.

Once split peas have softened and the soup has become creamy, remove the ham bone. Cut off any meat, discard skin and bone, dice meat into small pieces, and add to soup with peas and dill. Check seasonings; add more salt and pepper if needed (ours needed more salt). Continue cooking a few minutes more until peas are tender.