While my freezer is currently filled with delicious sugary baked yumminess, it has a dark side. Once you push aside the pumpkin cheesecakes, chocolate cake, thick-cut hickory smoked bacon, and t-bone steaks, there lies something more sinister: animal and seafood carcasses. Clam shells, remnants of chicken bones from multiple rotisserie chickens, shrimp shells, and beef bones full of marrow….you’d think I operated a voodoo shop as my side job.
My latest addition? A whole turkey carcass.
At risk of being flagged down as a serial killer in the making or being accused of witchcraft, I’ll spare you the happiness when I got to shred an entire turkey and just say that the best part of the turkey is the bones and the bits and pieces of meat that cling to the bones. Why am I such a weirdo, you ask?
SO MUCH FLAVOR. That perfect slice of turkey breast has nothing on those bits and pieces of deliciousness. Nothing.
So next time you’re left with turkey scrap meat and the bones, don’t throw them away! I’ll happily take donations or freeze them for later because homemade turkey stock is amazing and turkey tortilla soup is even more amazing.
Place turkey bones, wings, gizzards, and scrap meat in a large pot. Fill the pot with water until the bones are fully covered. Add in generous amount of spices such as oregano, parsley, thyme, rosemary, paprika, and a couple bay leaves to create a flavored stock. I typically will put in a tablespoon each of the spices, 1/2 tbs of paprika, and 2 bay leaves into my stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover, and cook for 2 or more hours.
Strain the soup to remove the bones and bay leaves and cool until the bones are cool enough to handle. Remove any excess meat from the bones and put aside. This leftover meat will be utilized in the turkey tortilla soup.
Note: Any leftover turkey stock not utilized in the recipe can be frozen.
Turkey Tortilla Soup:
For turkey scraps:
- 1 tbs of oil
- 4 cups of shredded cooked turkey or chicken
- 1 tbs chili powder
- 1/2 tbs cumin
For turkey tortilla soup:
- 2 tbs of oil (peanut, sunflower, vegetable, or olive)
- 1 ½ to 2 cups diced white or yellow onion
- 1 bunch of green onions, finely chopped
- 1 bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
- 1 jalapeño, seeds removed, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1.5 tbs paprika
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper, double if you like it very spicy
- 1.5 tsp sugar
- 6 roma tomatoes, peeled and diced, about 2 cups (or use one can of crushed tomatoes)
- 2 cups of turkey or chicken stock (homemade version mentioned above)
- 2 cups of tomato juice
- ½ cup lime juice – from 2 large limes
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Grated Monterey jack cheese or queso fresco, tortilla chips, avocado, cilantro, green onions, sour cream and lime slices
- Flavor the turkey: take turkey scraps and shred to bite size pieces. Heat 1 tbs of oil and add in cumin and chili powder. Sauté spices until fragrant and add in turkey scraps. Stir to coat the turkey evenly with the spices and cook for 1-2 more minutes. Set aside.
- For the soup base: Heat the oil in large pot, add the onions, green onions, cilantro, jalapeños, crushed garlic, paprika, cayenne pepper, oregano, sugar, salt and pepper. Mix well and cook on low heat for about 10 minutes.
- Add the diced tomatoes and cook for another 10 minutes.
- Add the turkey or chicken stock and tomato juice. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Utilize a hand blender to thicken the soup if desired. Add in shredded turkey. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for another 10 minutes.
- Add the lime juice and remove from the heat.
- Serve garnished with the grated cheese, tortilla chips, avocado, cilantro, green onions and lime slices.