I am famous for my turkey wild rice soup recipe. Actually it was originally my mother’s recipe. She made this soup from turkey leftovers after holidays and I asked for the recipe. It was one of those “some of this and some of that” recipes, and I improvised. It seemed close enough to be the same thing. Everybody loves it, so I call it Grandma Marian’s recipe.
For years I’ve made this soup and my P.S. and kids tease me it is more of a “stoup”, meaning it is a stew/soup because it gets so thick. There isn’t any visible broth left after it cools and is refrigerated. I always used white rice as well as wild rice and that white rice just doesn’t give up the ghost. It sucks the life out of every ounce of stock and puffs up and almost explodes with its own weight. I’ve tried all kinds of tricks to make the rice stop doing that, including using less. I didn’t seem to have any control. Rice trumped the cook every time!
But last year I decided to ignore that misbehaving white rice and use just wild rice and potatoes. Aha! It was a soup, not a stoup, and we were pleased. I’m not saying the turkey wild rice stoup isn’t a good stoup; it is excellent if we’re looking for a meal with less dribbles! But if I want a soup with a broth that doesn’t disappear, potatoes are the way to go. I surrendered. Waved the white (potato) flag.
I start the soup by removing all the meat from the turkey carcass and putting the carcass into a large soup pot and covering it with water. I know most chefs throw in chunks of onion and celery and stuff at this point but I hate to waste them by tossing them out later. I’m going to add those veggies later for my soup anyway.
I simmer the carcass by itself at a low boil for a few hours, setting my timer for every 30 minutes to check the water level and add more if necessary. After 3 or 4 hours I shut it off and let it cool for about 30 minutes. Then I do a two step strain. First I strain it with a large strainer like the one I use for pasta. Then I strain it with a finer metal strainer to get out all the smaller bits. I put the stock into containers and refrigerate overnight. The next day I skim off the top fat layer and I’m ready to make soup!
Wild rice is next. I get the water boiling (my directions say 4 cups) then add one cup of wild rice to the small saucepan and cook it according to the directions. It usually says simmer for about 30 minutes. Then I set it aside. Draining isn’t necessary.
In a skillet I do a basic sauté of chopped onions and celery with a little olive oil and stir occasionally until they’re translucent. When done, I add them to the pot with the stock. At this point I add some salt and pepper, some garlic powder, and some poultry seasoning or sage. I want some basic flavors, not an overpowering of any one thing.
I slice up a bag or so of carrots; I like a lot of carrots in turkey soup. I add those to the soup pot and get it bubbling nicely on medium low heat for about 30 minutes, when the carrots are almost fork tender. Don’t overcook; the carrots will be simmering more with the potatoes and we don’t want them to fall apart.
Next I add the cups of diced turkey to the soup pot then add the wild rice. At this point I also add potatoes that I’ve diced to the soup pot. Sometimes I peel them but often I just scrub and dice. I like skins on; call it the rustic look. Now we’re going to simmer it just until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
I often add a cabbage product at this point. I’ve found it adds a nice depth of flavor to the soup, whether it is some diced cauliflower or regular cabbage. It’s also a nice way to get kids to start eating those veggies because they mellow as they cook and don’t have their normal strength of taste. They cook quickly so I add them last and simmer for about 10 minutes more. Usually I chop them finer.
Check the soup for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper or other spices you’d like. Add the dash of white wine vinegar or rice vinegar for our mandatory acid pop, and we’re done! You could be an overachiever and add dumplings, or serve with homemade biscuits. But by itself, turkey wild rice soup is a nice meal. And white rice or not, my soup usually gets thick enough to not need dumplings.
The soup freezes nicely but it rarely lasts long enough here to make it to the freezer.
Turkey Wild Rice Soup
1 – 1 ½ gallons turkey or chicken stock
1 cup wild rice + water; cooked according to directions
1 large onion; diced
5 stalks celery; diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1# bag carrots; sliced
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoon sage or poultry seasoning
2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2-3 cups turkey; diced
6 cups potatoes; diced
½ head cauliflower or cabbage; diced
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
Cook wild rice according to directions; drain and set aside.
Saute onions and celery in skillet with the oil until translucent
Put stock into a large soup pot. Add onion and celery. Add garlic powder, sage, salt and pepper. Add carrots. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium low, allowing it to bubble for about 30 minutes, or until carrots are beginning to soften.
Add turkey, wild rice and potatoes. Bring to boil again and reduce to medium low, simmering until the potatoes are just tender, about 20 minutes.
Add cauliflower or cabbage and simmer about 10 minutes more. Check for salt or pepper to taste, add vinegar. Serve hot.