Well, I suppose this recipe comes a bit late in the game for this year’s Thanksgiving feast leftovers, but seeing as many people also eat turkey during the Christmas holiday season, I decided to go ahead and include this Thanksgiving leftover soup now. Honestly, it can be used any day after you eat a roasted chicken as well, if you prefer chicken and rice soup. Any time that you roast a turkey or chicken, instead of throwing away the skin, bones and other uneaten bits, they can be converted into a delicious and nourishing soup.
Let’s start with the stock base for your soup. After you serve your turkey or chicken, save the skin and bones and uneaten parts. Separate any meat that is leftover, and reserve it for later. Throw the rest into a slow cooker with some water, and cook on low, ideally for at least 10-12 hours. The longer you cook it, the more nourishment you will extract from the bones. You can even use some of the stock, add more water and keep simmering. You’d be amazed at how much stock you can obtain when you think that there is nothing left there.
For turkey, it takes much longer, but with chicken, the bones begin to disintegrate sometime after 12 hours. Maybe a day or so later, you can see that even the larger chicken bones start to completely fall apart. With my turkey leftovers, I saved the bones in the freezer after obtaining my stock, and used them in my next batch of chicken stock. Even those eventually disintegrated. At that point, I strain out my stock, but save the broken down skin and bones to feed them to my dogs. They love it. Obviously, you should only serve them to your dogs when the bones completely fall apart. Poultry bones can otherwise splinter and be dangerous for them.
Once you have your stock, the rest of the soup is simple. I like to simmer the soup with some cut up vegetables like celery, onion and carrots, and when the veggies start to get tender, I add in some rice. If you are using a brown rice that takes longer to cook, add it in at the beginning of cooking. Meanwhile, shred the leftover meat, and add in it when there are a few minutes left in the cooking time.
For a day after Thanksgiving soup, if you have any leftover stuffing, you can throw some in at the end of the cooking time. It adds a wonderful flavor to the soup that lets you relive Thanksgiving dinner as a soup.
I have to say that, by far, this has been my favorite way to enjoy Thanksgiving leftovers. Everybody in the family loved it.