A Healthy Recipe for Holiday Leftovers: Turkey and ‘Everything But the Kitchen Sink’ Soup

December 27, 2010 | Written By:

By Lana Buseman, Communications Design Specialist

About a month ago, I got a Groupon e-mail about an inexpensive two-week trial with an organic produce delivery company, Organics Delivered. I'd heard about companies that deliver fresh, local and organic produce to your door and had always been interested, so I spent the next week eagerly awaiting my delivery. Unfortunately, my box of produce arrived the day before Thanksgiving. Because Thanksgiving dinner was at my house this year, we already had an abundance of food in our refrigerator and no real need for extra produce.

We even had too much turkey. Thanksgiving Day came and went, and while we were originally excited about having the leftovers to ourselves, that appeal soon wore off. With both my box of produce and the forgotten leftover turkey rapidly approaching the expiration danger zone, I put my recent college grad survival skills to work. I can’t think of a better go-to meal for both freezing-cold temperatures and cleaning out the fridge than soup.

My first challenge for this soup was to use as many of the vegetables from my produce box delivery as possible; my second challenge was that my 12 year-old brother had to like it. My brother isn’t necessarily a picky eater, but left to his own devices his diet would probably consist of Fudgsicles, Ritz crackers and French toast. I decided my best approach was to do a new take on classic chicken noodle soup, except the chicken would be turkey and the soup would be full of as many veggies as I could fit in the pot.


I started by addressing my base vegetables: 3 celery stalks chopped, 3 medium (or 2 large) carrots peeled and chopped, one onion diced, and 2 garlic cloves finely chopped. I threw all of those veggies in a deep pot that had been sprayed with cooking spray. I turned the heat on medium-low and cooked my produce until it was just tender, about 8 minutes. Then I added 6 cups of low-sodium chicken broth (you can substitute vegetable broth as well) and 2 cups of water to the pot. I threw in some diced potatoes, any kind will do, some kale, cherry tomatoes, spinach and the turkey.

At this point, almost nothing was off limits. I let this simmer for about 20 minutes. My general rule of thumb is that if you can successfully pierce a carrot with a fork but it isn’t mushy, the rest of the veggies are done too. While my soup cooked, I cooked 2 cups of egg noodles in a separate pot, until just al dente. Then I drained the noodles and threw those in the pot as well.

I like to save the majority of the sodium for a special topping at the end. After serving out the soup into individual bowls, I sprinkled some ground pecorino romano cheese on top. It had just enough of a salty bite to add flavor and keep my brother interested.

The verdict? Success! My brother ate everything and even had seconds.

A soup recipe like this makes the perfect meal for this time of year as the wind gets blustery and we're  stuffed with heavy holiday side dishes. It's a delicious way to use our leftovers in a healthy but fulfilling way. Feel free to make any substitutes to the recipe: chicken, ham or even tofu would be tasty as well!

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