Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Turkey and pumpkin "neck" soup

I hate letting food go to waste, so when presented with the opportunity to give a good home to the turkey carcass offered by my mom on our way out the door following a delightful Thanksgiving dinner, I couldn't say no. So while a large portion of America was standing in line for low-priced LCD TVs this Black Friday morning, I was standing over my dearly departed poultry friend, slowly simmering away into a sumptuous broth. Broth is great to have around and all, but I wanted to put some of it to good use right away – so with the help of a crazy-looking long neck pumpkin we got from our CSA, I whipped up this soup.

I wanted to avoid the cliched cinnamon-nutmeg-clove "pumpkiny" spices in this soup, so I instead opted to take it in a more piquant direction with the addition of some cumin and a dried red chile. Some chopped cilantro added at the last minute brought some freshness to the bowl, and the addition of some frozen corn made for a good textural contrast.

One turkey carcass
1 medium onion, diced
1 "neck" of a long neck pumpkin, or half a butternut or acorn squash, diced
1/2 green bell pepper
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme, or about 1/4 tsp dried
1 tsp cumin
1 dried red chile (optional)
1/2 cup corn (frozen is fine)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Do what you have to do to fit the turkey carcass into a large stockpot, cover with water, and slowly bring to a simmer. Cook for about 2 hours until the broth develops a rich golden color, skimming off fat, foam and bubbles as they rise to the surface. Remove bones, drain, and let cool. Pick the remaining meat from the bones and reserve. When broth has cooled, skim fat from the surface.

Cook the onion and bell pepper over medium heat in a little oil until translucent. Add the diced pumpkin (or squash), bay leaves, cumin and thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Let cook for a minute or so, then add reserved turkey broth to cover, plus a little more to get it to the desired soupy consistency. Bring to a simmer for 15 minutes or so, then add shredded turkey meat and the chile pepper, if using. Cook until pumpkin/squash is tender, then add corn and cook until corn is heated through. Remove bay leaves, thyme (if fresh) and pepper, then add cilantro just before serving.

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