Homemade Turkey Soup

Homemade Turkey Soup

Did I ever mention I love to make soup? Not only is it comfort food on a cold, winter day, but the process of chopping up the ingredients and building layers of flavor is so much fun to me. Everybody in the pool! It’s so easy to do and it’s hard to mess up.

A day before I made the turkey soup, I put two turkey thighs (on the bone) in my slow cooker, seasoned them, added a little chicken broth (about 1 cup), and cooked them several hours on low. I refrigerated them until I was ready to make the soup the following day. {Save that yucky congealed broth…You’ll add it to the soup.} You can certainly use any leftover turkey you have if you cooked one recently! I’d recommend sticking with the dark meat for more flavor, though.

The wonderful thing about soup is that you add in what you like and leave out what you don’t like! I’ll tell you what I add in mine and you go from there. Let me mention that I prefer my soup a little thicker, or chunkier, rather than with too much broth. (Doesn’t Rachael Ray call that “stoup”?) Simply add more broth or water if you want more broth. Just make sure to keep tasting it to see if you need more seasoning.

Homemade Turkey Soup by Micha
2 turkey thighs – seasoned, cooked, meat removed from bones, and cut up or shredded
3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1 large onion (I like to use sweet or yellow)
8 carrots (not the baby carrots) – peeled and chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
12 oz. of fresh green beans, cut up*
2 large cloves of garlic, minced (or grated in with microplane like I do)
2 cartons (32 oz. each) of chicken broth, or turkey broth if you can find it
2-4 cups water, depending on how you like your soup
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. salt-free garlic and herb seasoning
1 tsp. dried parsley
1  1/2 cups uncooked Ditalini pasta
Salt and pepper to taste
*Any other veggies or additions you prefer. I like to add some frozen corn when I add the pasta.

1. Grab a big pot and add your oil, heating it over medium to medium-high heat.
2. While that’s heating, chop up your onion and add it to the pot.
3. Chop carrots and add them to the pot. Keep stirring as you add ingredients.
4. Chop up the celery and add it to the pot.
5. Make sure you are stirring the veggies around so they all get coated with the oil and don’t burn.
6. Cut up the fresh green beans and add them in. If you don’t use fresh green beans and use frozen or canned, add them in with the pasta.
7. Add in the minced garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Stir!
8. When your veggies are softened a bit, add in that turkey “broth” that you have leftover from cooking the thighs. If you refrigerated it, it will be like a gelatin consistency. Gross, but adds flavor!
9. Pour in 2 cartons of chicken or turkey broth (total of 64 oz.).
10. Add in a few cups of water depending on how you like your soup. I add in about 2-3 cups, but you can add 4.
11. Bring to a boil.
12. While you are waiting for the boil, add in your shredded or cut up turkey.
13. Add paprika, garlic and herb seasoning, and the parsley.
14. Let simmer for about 30 minutes or more, and then add in about 1  1/2 cups Ditalini pasta (or any small pasta). Now is also when you can add frozen or canned veggies if desired, like some corn. Simmer for about 15 minutes more.
15. Taste the soup and season with salt and pepper to taste.

P.S. My daughter who doesn’t care so much for pasta loves this soup. She says it’s the Ditalini!

I’m about to go have some leftover soup for lunch now! Hope you try it!

Potato, Leek, & Bacon Soup

Here’s a hearty, comforting, and tasty soup that’s a breeze to make. One of my favorite things to cook is homemade soup because it’s so much fun to chop stuff up and add it to a big pot, let it simmer for a while, and enjoy all those flavors together in one spoonful. It’s a good way to use up leftovers or produce before it goes bad – plus most soup ingredients are inexpensive so you can make a big pot for not a lot of dough. I used to make a potato and leek soup, and I’ve also made a potato and bacon soup. This time I combined the two recipes to suit my taste and this is what I came up with. I choose to leave my soup chunky, but some people like to puree this type of soup. Either way, it’s delicious!

{A little note about using leeks if you have never cooked with them before: They are dirty little things! There is a lot of grit in between those layers. They usually come banded up in a bunch of about 3 stalks and they are very long. Cut off the dark green tops. To clean, slice each stalk down the middle longways and then slice the halves into 1/2 inch slices. Put all of the chopped leeks into a big bowl of water and separate them with your fingers in the water. Move them around in the water bath to clean, remove the slices to a clean towel, and pat to dry. Sounds like a pain to do this step, but it’s not hard and it is necessary.}

Potato, Leek, & Bacon Soup
3 leeks (dark green part removed), halved, chopped, and cleaned
6 slices bacon, cooked until crispy and set aside
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon bacon drippings + 1 tablespoon butter
4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
6 cups chicken broth
1 dried bay leaf
Salt & pepper to taste

1. Cook bacon in a large pot until crispy. Set aside and reserve 1 tablespoon of the bacon drippings in the pot.
2. Add 1 tablespoon butter to the pot with the bacon drippings and saute the chopped leeks with the minced garlic over medium heat until soft. Stir occasionally.
3. While the leeks are in the pot, peel and cube your potatoes. Add them to the pot as you are cutting. Salt and pepper the potatoes and leeks to taste.
4. Add the chicken broth and 1 dried bay leaf. Stir to combine.
5. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to simmer for at least 30 minutes, but you can cook longer if you wish. The potatoes will break down and make the soup thicker the longer you simmer it.
6. Remove the bay leaf. Taste the soup and season with s&p if needed. I like to use a lot of fresh ground pepper in my soups!
7. If you prefer, you can puree the soup at this point, but I don’t.
8. Chop up the crispy bacon into small pieces and add it to the soup. (I leave out any stringy or fatty pieces that didn’t crisp up.)
9. Enjoy!

Irish Beef Stew

It figures the day I had planned to cook this Irish Beef Stew, Mother Nature decided to bring us a record setting warm temperature of 70 degrees! Here in eastern Pennsylvania that almost feels like summer. Oh well. It went back down to 50 today with lots of wind, so the leftovers hit the spot.

I am a little bit Irish, with some Italian and German in me as well…so I thought I’d post something for a St. Patrick’s Day dinner. Unless you’d prefer to have the St. Patrick’s Day Ombre Cupcakes as a meal. I won’t judge. This stew is very hearty and filling and makes your house smell terrific.

I had found a recipe here, but in my search I found many others that were basically the same with minor adjustments. I just combined a few and got this:

Irish Beef Stew
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 – 1 1/2 lb. beef stew meat
6-7 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup red wine
1 cup Irish stout beer, such as Guinness
6 cups beef stock or beef broth
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
1 tablespoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3-4 dried bay leaves (leave whole as you will need to fish them out later!)
2 tablespoons butter
2-3 lbs. Russet potatoes, (I used Yukon Gold because they are so creamy, about 1/2 of a 5 lb. bag) cut roughly into 1/2 inch pieces
3/4 lb. parsnips (these are light in color and taste like sweeter carrots), peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cups carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 large yellow onion, chopped (or use 2 small onions)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon cornstarch + 1 tablespoon cold water
Chopped fresh parsley (optional)

{Here’s the deal…you can certainly omit the red wine and beer and just replace them with beef stock. I didn’t have any Guinness beer on hand and just used stock in its place. If you can get some in there it’s worth it. I have heard of using ginger ale instead of the beer, but I can’t comment on its results. You can also replace the red wine with red cooking wine, but a good red wine would be better, of course. If you are omitting the wine and beer, try to use a beef stock, rather than a broth.}

Get out a big, heavy pot and heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Salt and pepper the beef and cook the pieces in two batches so they are browned on all sides. If you put too many pieces in the pot, they will steam instead of brown. You want to see the caramelization happening. This will take about 5 minutes for each batch. Then add the minced garlic and saute for a minute or so.

Before you burn the garlic, add in the red wine, Guinness beer, beef stock, tomato paste, sugar, thyme, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves. {Do not add the vegetables yet!} Stir it all up and bring to a boil. When it comes to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. The longer the better, but you do want to eat at some point I’m sure… The next step can be done at this point or you can wait until your meat and broth has simmered for about 2 hours. Do you want to get it over with? Or do you want to pat yourself on the back for getting that part done and go relax? It’s your call.

When you are ready, peel and cut up your parsnips, carrots, potatoes and onions. In a separate (large) pan, melt the butter on medium heat and dump in all the vegetables that you just chopped up. Salt and pepper to taste. You want to saute them until they get a little bit golden brown in color, about 15-20 minutes. If you did this step right after you cover and simmer the meat, set aside for later.

When the meat has simmered for at least 2 hours (I did mine for 2 1/2 hours), carefully add your veggies to the meat and broth pot.

{Um, when it cooks down, it looks a whole lot better than that…Promise.}

Bring back up to a boil, turn heat back down to simmer. Cook all this goodness together, uncovered, for about 40 minutes.

{Don’t forget to take out the bay leaves before serving! You do not want to bite into one of those things, trust me.}

You’ll want to thicken the broth up a bit right before serving so in a little bowl mix 1 tablespoon corn starch with 1 tablespoon COLD water. SLOWLY stir this into your stew. Taste your stew. Season to your liking with salt & pepper. If your stew has a layer of grease at the top, you can skim most of it off with a spoon. Mine did not — maybe I used a leaner beef. If you want to be all fancy, sprinkle chopped flat leaf parsley on top of each serving. I baked up some breadsticks to serve alongside each bowl or you can rip off a hunk of crusty bread and serve with it for dipping. Recipe serves 4-6 and it’s even better the next day.

Happy Bay Leaf Hunting!