Thursday, November 29, 2012

Leftovers find new life in turkey soup

You've probably seen the credit card commercials that ask, "What's in your wallet?"

I have a question that's far less intrusive and has an answer that could be far more interesting: "What's in your refrigerator/freezer?"

This time of year, the answer is apt to be leftover turkey. I also had leftover turkey stock, turkey gravy that I'd frozen into a thin sheet in a zip-top bag, and celery. I had half a red onion and some mushrooms that remained after I topped a pizza, plus carrots and parsnips. My pantry held barley and chicken stock. I pulled out all those ingredients, chopped a little and stirred even less, and an hour later, I had a steaming pot of hearty soup. The leftovers were so well seasoned that I didn't even need to add salt and pepper.

I can't remember what credit card company paid for all those commercials, and you might not recall either. In contrast, I think this soup will be hard to forget.

Yield: 4 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced
1 rib celery, chopped
4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
6 cups turkey or chicken stock (or a combination)
1 medium parsnip, peeled and sliced thinly
1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced thinly
1/3 cup barley
1 1/2 cups chopped cooked turkey
1/4 cup turkey gravy, optional (see note)
Salt, optional
Ground black pepper, optional

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan or small stockpot. Add onion; sauté for a minute or two, then add celery and sauté for a few minutes more. Add mushrooms; sauté until they release their liquid. Pour in stock and bring to a boil over high heat.

Add parsnip, carrot and barley. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until barley is tender, about 45 minutes.

Add turkey and gravy; cook until hot. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Note: The gravy adds richness and thickens the soup slightly. If you freeze leftover gravy in a thin sheet in a zip-top plastic bag, you can break off as much as you need and return the rest to the freezer.

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