Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Turkey Lurkey No More (Turkey Soup with Spinach, Fennel, and Bacon)

The time has come for clearing out Turkey Lurkey. No, not the character from Henny Penny, though he did always give me an unsavory vibe. I mean the Ghosts of Thanksgivings Past possibly now dwelling in the back of your refrigerator. Sarah and Dar stopped by on Sunday with the boys for some post-Thanksgiving family time and we all had big turkey sandwiches, but it wasn't really making a dent in the reserve. Sarah suggested I post about ways to repurpose lurking turkey, and my first entry, though on the nose, is turkey soup.

Covered in bacon!

Let me take an aside here to state that, even as it is venerated by some as a flavor hero or, indeed, achieving cult status in some corners of the internet, bacon also gets a bad wrap. This has allowed some pretenders to the throne to arrive on the scene in the form of turkey bacon, which I see the women in my life relentlessly choosing over the real deal. Bacon is high in saturated fat and sodium: you definitely shouldn't eat it at every meal, but a single serving is perfectly fine. I don't think it's worth the flavor sacrifice of turkey bacon to scrape 20 calories off of a slice.

In bacon we trust
Besides, my intention with this recipe was to create something soothing and healing, not punishment for being bad. The bacon lends a nice crunch on top and some smoky, porky undertones to the broth, helping to perk the turkey up a bit. To that end, I also availed myself of some fresh lemon, freshly grated nutmeg, and the onion, celery, and fennel bulb.

Soothing & healing
The finished soup has a delicate, subtle flavor, at once fresh (the lemon, nutmeg and fennel at work) and deeply layered, with slow-cooked smokiness from roasted turkey and crisped bacon. A package of frozen spinach, something I think most people have lying around, helps boost the nutritional value, too. This is a somewhat lean dish, I was aiming to appease achy stomachs after a holiday characterized by excess. If you want to bulk things back up, you can add beans and/or pasta, or make Parmigiano Reggiano toasts.

Turkey soup with spinach, fennel, and bacon

Don't let the long list of ingredients frighten you off, you can have this finished with about 15 minutes of effort and 30 minutes wait.

2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
4 strips of bacon, thinly sliced into lardons
1 Mayan sweet onion (or Spanish, yellow), chopped
4 stalks celery and greens, chopped
1 fennel bulb, quartered, cored, and slivered
Tender stalks and fronds of fennel, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, smashed and coarsely chopped
2 quarts of turkey stock (chicken if you're fresh out)
As much leftover turkey as you're willing to spare
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Juice of 1 lemon
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs fresh parsley
2 sprigs fresh sage
8 oz package frozen spinach, thawed
Salt and pepper, to taste

Warm the oil in a heavy soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat and add the bacon. Fry, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate.

Supporting cast
Add the onion, celery, and fennel to the oil and rendered bacon fat and saute until the onion begin to turn translucent, about another 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes more. Add the herbs, stock, nutmeg and lemon and stir. Slip in the turkey.

Turkey Lurkey no more
Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes. While the soup simmers, cook the spinach according to package directions and allow to cool. Retrieve the herb sprigs, bay leaf, and any large, bone-in pieces of meat you included. Strip meat off into bite-sized pieces and return them to pot.

Stir the spinach into the finished soup.

Popeye approved
Serve hot, topping with the bacon crumbles, and enjoy.

By the loving spoonful


leaf (the indolent cook) said...

Looks like my kind of comfort food! A huge bowl of this will serve me well.

J said...

Why thank you! Those short a Thanksgiving turkey could probably take a quick shortcut via rotisserie chicken and make this throughout the winter, I know I intend to.

Thanks for stopping by!