Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A year and a half later... Christmas Leftover Soup

So, it has been more than a while since I ventured on here. I basically started up the blog, then disappeared into my bubble. Well... to emerge, I hope. And what better time is there to emerge from one's bubble than after the hoopla of the holidays, when resolutions are being formulated and time seems to be abundant.

I was very fortunate over the holiday to join the ranks of many a Parisian woman, and able cook, with the addition of a Le Creuset cast iron casserole to my kitchen. I think I have been coveting this pot for more than twenty years. Covet, no more. It is now mine in all of its warmly orange tinged, red splendour.

I have been pouring over cookbooks and looking into the pantry and wandering the grocery in hopes of finding inspiration for the first ever creation to come from this pot. After watching Julie and Julia and flipping through Mastering the Art of French Cooking, I thought that boeuf bourguignon would be the most appropriate first dish. Or maybe Coq au Vin. But what about my most favourite Tuscan dish of Pici al Cinghiale (a local Tuscan pasta with a wild boar ragu). There were so many directions that I could have gone...

But, after a guilty look at the contents of my refrigerator, I determined that what I would first make in that pot would be a reflection of the holiday and of family... turned into something new... something quite perfect to end 2009 and begin 2010.

As such, here is my Christmas Leftover Soup.

Measurements are not overly precise, as the quantity will vary depending on the amount of leftovers that you have. Same with ingredients.

I was working with leftover turkey (dry, sad white meat), mashed potatoes, buttered carrots and stuffing, primarily.

Start off with the aromatics. Starting with some good oil (olive or whatever suits your taste), then add your garlic (I used two smashed, not chopped garlic), onions (I used one medium onion) and celery (get rid of that last stalk or two that didn't make it into the stuffing). Let it all sweat and colour. After the garlic, onion and celery has had a bit of a head start, add the carrots. I used the leftover carrots and added two more.

Once the aromatics have browned and reduced, deglaze (or scrape up the brown bits on the bottom of the pot) with a cup (roughly) of dry white wine. Let this cook together for a few moments to start burning off the alcohol.

To this add, four cups of water. I didn't have chicken or vegetable stock and wasn't leaving my house for it.

Prep your turkey. Remove any skin or fat and pull the meat from the bone. Chop loosely but don't stress much about precision. These are leftovers after all. Add that to your soup.

As the soup warms again, trust me here, stir in the mashed potatoes. This will thicken the broth and add a heartiness that would have been lacking otherwise.

Toss in a couple of bay leaves and thyme. I was out of time so I added a teaspoon of herbes de provence. Rub it in your palms as you drop it into the soup to start opening up the flavours.

Now, just let it bubble and enjoy itself... until you're too hungry to wait any longer.

You have now successfully used up nearly all of your leftovers... except for the stuffing. Now, if you're feeling ambitious and slightly adventurous, try this...

Preheat the oven to 350 F or a pan to medium. Either on a baking sheet (for the oven) or in the pan, toast the stuffing bits into crouton consistency. Top your soup with this lovely little garnish. Now, truly, all leftovers have been repurposed.


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