Leftovers. They are truly one of my most challenging culinary puzzles. I don't love leftovers. I'm the kind that asks for the take-out box at the restaurants and then leaves it behind after paying the check. Or, if I do remember to bring it home, I leave it in the refrigerator so long that it starts to resemble a science experiment. A meal just never tastes the same on its second round.
So, you can imagine that holiday dinners are particularly challenging for me. When I make a holiday dinner, I go all out. Turkey AND ham, more veggies and starches than I can count on one hand. Let's not forget the desserts too. But all this means a lot of leftovers. And even after I've shoved foil wrapped goodies into the hands of my departing family members, I'm still trying to figure out what to do with my fully stocked refrigerator in the days to come.
Post-Thanksgiving Fridays usually mean that I'm going to whip up some sort of frittata with my left over ham, broccoli, onions, etc. But this year, my mind went in a different direction. And instead of an egg-filled brunch on Friday, for Saturday's lunch we enjoyed a full-bodied turkey noodle soup. My secret this year? Gravy. I know you are asking yourself what gravy has to do with soup. For me, it's everything. Of late, I've been using a butter-flour roux as the base for all of my vegetable soups because I like my soup to have a little more substance that a clear runny broth. My gravy starts the same way, fortified with drippings from my roasted turkey (properly separated and strained of course). So why not use some of that leftover goodness to build a savory soup. Think about it. Makes sense right? And soup is a great way to use up left over turkey and all of those Thanksgiving veggies - pearl onions, peas, roasted carrots and, yes, maybe even brussel sprouts. This year, my soup made use of the remaining celery and onions that didn't make it into my signature cornbread stuffing. And to make it extra special, I added some garlic and herb pappardelle that I picked up from DeRomo's Gourmet Market. The result was so good, even my husband (the anti-soup nazi) couldn't deny it. This might very well be my next holiday tradition. Mine and maybe yours?
Turkey Noodle Soup
Add 1 cup of left over gravy to a cold sauce pan and turn the burner on medium. Add 1 quart chicken or vegetable stock to the sauce pan and whisk until gravy is heated and incorporated throughout. Allow to simmer. Add diced vegetables of any variety (today my soup included celery, bell pepper and onion) and shredded turkey. How much of each you add is strictly up to you. I like my veggies to have a slight bite so I put them in raw. But if you prefer, you can saute them to soften them prior to adding them to the soup. Add a bay leaf while the soup simmers if you wish. If the soup becomes too thick for your taste, you can extra stock or water a 1/2 cup at a time. If you want to add noodles, add them before serving allowing enough time for the noodles to cook to al dente before presentation. (My noodles only take 3 minutes to cook, so I add them after I know the veggies are cooked through and allow only an additional 3 minutes of simmering before plating. If your noodles will take longer to cook per packaging instructions you might add them earlier in the simmering process.) When all is properly cooked and warmed through, season with salt and pepper to taste and serve in deep bowls.
I don't suggest adding the noodles if you are preparing this soup a day or so ahead. The noodles will soak up the liquid even while refrigerated. You can always add noodles when you reheat your prepared soup. And if you don't have gravy try 1/2 to 1 cup of mashed potatoes instead. The potato starch also acts as a thickener.