I don't know about you, but when I spend all morning in the kitchen preparing the Thanksgiving feast, I'm not that interested when the time comes to sit down and eat. My senses are completely overloaded from chopping, stirring and tasting and living in the wonderful aromas of the kitchen. I know, I know. I could make or purchase things ahead, or ask people to bring things or help-and I do to some extent-but my true enjoyment of that day is actually the cooking.
I also enjoy the day after Thanksgiving. I love eating the leftovers as I relax in front of a movie and recover from the day before. And I love that I love them, too, because I know that I'm not wasting any money by wasting food. And then, on Saturday, I transform the leftover turkey into one of my favorite dishes of all time, sopa de lima (lime soup). I have friends who've told me not to bother inviting them to Thanksgiving dinner, they'd rather come over for my sopa de lima on the weekend!
My tradition of making this soup began in the fall of 1991 when I was driving around the Yucatan peninsula with friends in a VW bug for three weeks, including Thanksgiving Day. We noticed sopa de lima-made with chicken-on almost every restaurant menu and made a point of trying each version we encountered. Most of those we tried were very brothy, with not much in the way of chicken, turkey or vegetable chunks. But that broth was incredibly delicious with its rich stock base, complex blend of herbs and spices and big lime presence. I've had similar "tortilla soup" in restaurants in the States that are also brothy, but less lime-heavy, and often have short chunks of corn on the cob and slices of avocado on top.
When we returned from our trip, I found myself craving that soup and just had to try recreating it. I wanted something heartier for the fall and winter, so my version ended up almost stew-like in consistency. And now I make it every year with the Thanksgiving turkey leftovers. (Sometimes I'll make a quicker version using a rotisserie chicken and boxed broth. For years, my 9-year-old niece always requests it when I cook dinner for her family.)
In the photo is a similar recipe using chicken
and while this Spicy Turkey Soup
is also similar, here's my way (no exact measurements, sorry-just go your own way!):
- Remove all the meat from the turkey carcass, tearing into big shreds and reserve in the fridge.
- Make stock from the carcass.
- Sauté onion, garlic, carrots, celery, sometimes some bell pepper and always one or two minced jalapeño peppers, until onions are translucent.
- Add chopped fresh tomatoes and sauté just 2 or 3 minutes more.
- Add a good amount of chili powder, oregano and a pinch of ground clove. Stir to coat all ingredients thoroughly.
- Add the turkey stock, bring to a boil, add the turkey, bring to a boil again, then reduce to a simmer and cook until carrots are just tender, only about the time it takes to squeeze all the limes and chop the cilantro in the next step.
- Remove from heat and add a lot of fresh-squeezed lime juice-about 6-8 limes worth-and a bunch of cilantro, chopped.
- Place a layer of tortilla chips in the bottom of each individual wide, shallow bowl, sprinkle on shredded Monterey Jack cheese and then ladle the soup over that so the hot soup melts the cheese onto the chips.
Well, now you know my guilty secret. My favorite parts of celebrating one of our country's most popular holidays are hiding in the kitchen on THE day, eating leftovers in front of the TV the day after, and then the next day getting my taste buds outside the country! But, more importantly, you have another idea for how to use turkey leftovers. Why don't you see if your favorite turkey leftovers recipe might convince my taste buds to stay Stateside...let's hear it!