Turkey Soup

Turkey SoupWhen I was child, my grandmother made chicken soup for every Jewish holiday. It was a traditional clear broth with matzah balls that were awesome. And it was usually part of a multi-course meal, often followed by stuffed cabbage and a meat course. Now don’t get me wrong, I love multi-course meals, but at home my husband and I enjoy one pot meals. We also prefer turkey to chicken. We absolutely love turkey thighs, even when they are considered out of season. Seriously, why limit something as great as turkey to Thanksgiving? So in my home we substitute turkey for chicken in our soup, and the soup is a full meal. It’s also really healthy. It uses spices known for their medicinal value including turmeric and ginger, as well as green tea, which is full of antioxidants. But don’t let the healthful qualities of this soup turn you off. It’s delicious. The spices are wonderful, and the green tea provides just enough tannins to balance the fat of the turkey. It’s one of my family’s favorite meals.

Spice rub*

2 Tb ginger
2 Tb turmeric
1 Tb allspice
½ Tb clove
1 Tb cumin
1 Tb coriander
1 Tb garlic powder
1 Tb onion powder
¼ cup black pepper
¼ cup kosher salt

*this makes a batch larger than you will need for this recipe, but we love having this rub around to use on chicken, turkey, lamb, and steak


2 Tb oil
four turkey thighs
spice rub
1 large onion, large dice
4 cups green tea, brewed strong
5 large carrots, one diced and four cut in large rounds
1 large bok choy, ¼-inch slices
1 large leek, ¼-inch slices
1 large fennel bulb, ¼-inch slices
½ pound of shiitake mushrooms
Optional: 1-2 cups of stock (mushroom, vegetable, or chicken)

1. Heat a large, deep sauté pan or dutch oven on medium high heat. Add oil to pan. Season the turkey thighs with the spice rub. When the oil is hot, place the turkey thighs in the pan skin side down. Let the thighs sear for 3-5 minutes or until the skin turns golden and starts to crisp.

2. Remove the turkey thighs and set aside.  Turn down the heat to medium low. Pour off some of the rendered fat from the turkey skin and discard, leaving about 2 Tbs of the fat in the pan. Add the diced onion and the one diced carrot. Sweat for 2-3 minutes.

3. Add the green tea, which will deglaze the pan.  Use a spoon or spatula to loosen any bits that have stuck to the pan Add the turkey thighs. Turn the heat down to low, cover the pan, and simmer for 40 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, remove the outer layer of the fennel bulb. Cut the leek in half lengthwise and wash if the inner leaves have dirt. Slice the fennel, leek, and bok choy (use both stem and greens of the bok choy, but place the greens aside) and cut the remaining carrots into large rounds. If the mushrooms are large, cut them in quarters. If they are smaller, cut them in half.

5. After simmering the soup for 40 minutes, add the carrots to the liquid. Make sure the turkey is mostly submerged. If not, add more green tea or some stock. Cover the pan and simmer for ten minutes.

6. Add the bok choy stems, leek, and fennel. Cover the pan and simmer for ten more minutes.

7. Place the shiitake mushrooms and the bok choy leaves on top of the soup. Cover the pan and simmer for five minutes.

8. Remove the turkey thighs and allow to rest for a few minutes. Once the turkey is cool enough to handle, cut the meat from the bones and cut into slices. Taste and adjust the seasoning of the liquid by adding a little salt and pepper.

9. Spoon soup into a bowl and lay turkey slices on top.

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