Of all the turkey leftovers that we enjoy in the days following Thanksgiving, the one I most look forward to is soup. All of them have their charms: sliced and piled into sandwiches; creamed and ladled over dressing; mixed with rice; molded into croquettes, and of course diced and folded into casseroles like tetrazzini. But none of those can quite equal the soothing, soul-nourishing comfort of a bowl of fragrant turkey broth, made thick with diced leftover turkey, vegetables, and a nice soup pasta or dumpling.
This is the basic recipe that I follow every year, although it's rare that any two batches come out exactly the same. The beauty of simple formulas like this one is that they adapt to accommodate dabs of leftovers that may be too small to serve on their own. Instead of (or in addition to) the peas you might add diced leftover Brussels sprouts or even a handful of drained and chopped collards. Instead of pasta, little dumplings of leftover dressing mixed with a little egg to bind it. If there's a little ham leftover, then a small handful of diced ham would also be a delicious addition.
Turkey and Pasta Soup
Serves 2-3 as a main dish
5 cups Turkey Broth, see 26 November 2022: Mastering Thanksgiving IX
1-3 teaspoons freshly grated gingerroot (to taste)
1 medium yellow onion, trimmed, split lengthwise, peeled, and diced small
2 large or 3 medium carrots, trimmed, peeled, and diced small
2 large or 3 medium ribs celery, scrubbed under cold running water, strung, and diced small
1 large or 2 medium boiling potatoes (red skinned, white, or gold)
1 cup frozen petite green peas, thawed
1 generous cup diced leftover cooked turkey
Salt and whole black pepper in a mill
½ cup orzo, ditalini, stellini, thin egg noodles, or other soup pasta
Crackers toasted in a 300° F. oven, buttered toast, or toasted leftover rolls
1. Bring the broth to a boil in a heavy-bottomed 3-3½-quart pot over medium-high heat. Add the ginger and onion, let it return to a lively simmer, and simmer 2 minutes. Add the carrot and celery and simmer 2 minutes longer. Meanwhile, peel the potatoes, then thickly slice them and cut each slice into small dice.
2. Add the potatoes and peas to the soup, bring it back to a simmer, and cook 4 minutes. They should still be a little under-done. Add the turkey, season lightly with salt and pepper, and let it come back to a simmer.
3. Stir in the orzo or other soup pasta, bring it back to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente, using the package directions as a rough guide, 4-10 minutes, depending on the pasta shape and thickness. The soup should be thick, but if, as the pasta nears al dente, it has gotten too thick, thin it to suit you with a little water or if you have it, more broth.
4. When the pasta is al dente, taste and adjust the seasonings, simmer half a minute longer, and serve with toasted crackers, toast, or toasted leftover rolls from your Thanksgiving dinner.