Last week, a full two weeks before Thanksgiving was even scheduled to arrive, I got an intense craving for turkey. Not the deli variety and not the roasted kind you can buy. I needed a fragrant bird filling up my house with its gorgeous aromas while I worked on my new French soup cookbook upstairs in my office.
So, I went to the grocery and bought a small, five-pound, bone-in turkey breast. I had to wait a day to thaw it in the fridge, and then I got busy doing what I always do for any turkey I'm about to roast. I rub mine down with olive oil, season generously with ground black pepper and kosher salt, and nestle a couple of pats of butter under the skin of the breast.
I start mine in a hot, 425 F oven and let it cook for about 20 minutes, or until it starts to form a kind of golden "crust" within which the seasoning is embedded. Then, I reduce the heat to 325 F, and start basting it with a combination of one cup white wine, one cup chicken stock, one tablespoon honey, and one tablespoon Dijon mustard, all whisked together. I baste (or return the love back to the turkey) every 20 minutes, spooning the flavorful pan juices over the bird along the way. I stop cooking the turkey when the center of the breast reads 160 F and let it rest, lightly covered with tin foil, for at least 30 minutes. This whole process, at 20 minutes per pound, took less than two hours.
Then, I started carving the juicy, tender white meat away from the bone for the week of turkey sandwiches I enjoyed the past several days. Never one to endorse wasting food or flavor, I coarsely chopped the remaining carcass and put it in a large stock pot with a quartered onion, a couple of stalks of celery, a carrot, two bay leaves, and enough water to cover the contents. I brought it to a boil, reduced to a simmer, and cooked it ever so slowly (uncovered) for about six hours, skimming off any "scum" as it rose to the top. The result was a gorgeous, clear, fragrant stock.
So, a little bit early, I had on-hand exactly what you will have the day after Thanksgiving. Plenty of turkey and stock to put to good use. The obvious solution is a fragrant, light and delicate soup. Because the book I'm working on uses French technique and method, I cut up all of the vegetables very finely, into what is called a brunoise. This is tiny 1/8-inch dice. It looks pretty and allows all of the vegetables to cook quickly and for the same amount of time. A petite dice of warm croutons on top finishes it off in a very French way for this wonderfully American holiday.
Because basically everything is prepped ahead, it comes together in just about 20 minutes.
Want to try it? Well, bon appetit! (Note: Rest assured that if you're careful in your planning, you should still have plenty of roast turkey for sandwiches. This soup uses only about two cups.)
Day-After-Thanksgiving Turkey and Crimini Soup
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and very finely chopped
2 large stalks celery, very finely chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and very finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed into a paste
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups very finely chopped crimini mushrooms (Note: Remove any dirt with a damp paper towel and pull out any tough stems before cutting.)
1 1/4 tsp. dried rubbed sage leaves
1/4 cup dry vermouth
6 cups reserved turkey stock
2 cups turkey breast, skin removed and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 Tbs. fresh rosemary leaves finely chopped
For the croutons:
1 cup dried white bread, such as baguette, crust removed and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 Tbs. olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp. dried rubbed sage leaves
Roast turkey on Thanksgiving using method described at the top of this blog. After the meat's been cut off the bone, reserve the carcass and prepare the stock as directed in this blog. Reserve the stock and the turkey meat separately in the refrigerator. The following day, proceed as follows.
In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and olive oil together over medium high heat. Add the onion, celery, carrots, garlic, and a light dusting of salt and pepper. Stir to coat, reduce heat to medium, and sweat the vegetables for five to eight minutes or until they're softened. Add the chopped crimini and dried sage and stir to coat. Add the vermouth, stir, and increase heat to medium high. Reduce the vermouth to a glaze, another three to five minutes. Add the reserved turkey stock and cubed turkey meat. Bring up to a boil and reduce to a simmer over medium low heat. Cook for 20 minutes to soften the veggies and bring the flavors together. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
Meanwhile, to prepare the croutons, melt the butter and the oil together over medium high heat in a saute pan. When sizzling, add the cubed bread, salt, pepper, and dried sage. Toss to coat evenly. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking the croutons, tossing, until golden brown on all sides. Reserve warm.
Serve the soup very hot in shallow bowls. Garnish with a drizzle of freshly chopped rosemary and arrange a pyramid of warm croutons in the center of each bowl just before serving.
Bon appetit and Happy Thanksgiving!