I don’t know about you, but every time I’ve opened the fridge this last week the Thanksgiving leftovers are staring at me accusingly. “Why are you cooking something NEW when you have so much food to eat in here?” They mock me. So I shut the door and leave them in the dark. But, since they’re right (technically) I’ve beaten them into submission and freezable things I can enjoy now or later.
My friend is having surgery on her mouth in a few weeks and won’t be able to eat real food for a few days. So, with her in mind, I started with cream soups. Sooo super easy. All you need is a blender. Really.
Broccoli Cheese Soup
I grabbed a Broccoli & Gruyère Gratin I made for Thanksgiving. You can find the original recipe here. It was very good and very rich.
I also grabbed some chicken stock and low fat milk. If you just have broccoli you could certainly use cream, whole milk, whatever. Really any dairy product will do. If you have steamed broccoli you might want to add some cheese and some sautéed onions if you like.
I sliced the gratin into blender-sized pieces and dropped them in with enough liquid to get the blender going. Don’t overdo it with the liquid. You can always add more, but you can’t take it out! I also added a dash of salt and pepper. Since the dish tasted great there was no need for more seasonings. Then I hit purée and whizzed it until it seemed smooth.
Testing it with a spoon, I found it to be a bit thick, so I added a bit more liquid, tasted it for seasonings (you can add more here if needed), and hit purée again.
You can see it’s a pretty spring green color. It tasted great (for cold soup) so I poured it into some jars I had handy (while I waited on these perfect containers from Cassandra’s Kitchen). On to the next soup!
Cream of Potato
Some of my leftover mashed potatoes had already been repurposed into potato pancakes so I didn’t have too much left to use. But, a little potatoes go a long way. When making this think about what flavors you enjoy in a baked potato. You could certainly fry up a few pieces of bacon, use the rendered fat to sauté some onions to add to the soup and then top the soup with crumbled bacon.
I sautéed up some onions, also leftover, grabbed some bagged shredded cheese, and more milk and chicken stock. You could also add sour cream or cream cheese if you have some left in the fridge. Into the blender with all of it.
Give it a couple of pulses until it’s smooth, check the consistency and you have another soup! I used these amazing containers which I LOVE from Cassandra’s Kitchen. If you’ve ever watched Ina Garten on Barefoot Contessa you’ve seen her gush over these containers. And she’s totally right to do so! They come in perfect sizes, are tough enough to go in the dishwasher, and can be used over and over. Perfect for the freezer. I often put soup in zipper bags but I find that they never freeze flat enough to stack. These stack perfectly.
Turkey Noodle Soup
You may have noticed that I haven’t used any actual turkey yet. But I didn’t forget it. The title says turkey noodle, but you can put virtually anything into this soup and it will be great. Leftover beans? Sure. Broccoli? Why not? Mushrooms? Sure, slice ‘em up and drop them in at the end. Deviled eggs? Um, no. You should just eat them. In fact, why do you even HAVE leftover deviled eggs? That’s an oxymoron in my house.
I foraged around and found most of an onion and all the celery that was left. I like celery in things, but I don’t just stand around gnawing on it during the day so I’m always glad to get rid of the extra. I also diced up some leftover carrots and sautéed everything in a tablespoon or so of butter.
While those were cooking I diced up all the leftover turkey. It was a hefty pile.
Don’t worry if your turkey is a little dry. Some of mine was, too. The broth and simmering will bring it right back to life. I used my most awesome dutch oven for this, any soup pot will do.
Now it’s time for the stock. I had canned stock leftover. There’s nothing wrong with using canned stock. I recommend the low sodium, all natural kind if you can get it. Of course, you’re welcome to make your own, I often do, but use whatever’s easy and on hand.
I used this whole can plus a little I had left from the other soups. You want to cover all the things in the pot with some to spare. I like a super thick, chunky soup. You might prefer yours a little soupier. You can always add more if it cooks down. I also popped out to the garden and cut some thyme sprigs and grabbed two bay leaves. I dropped them on top of the soup. No need to tie them, I prefer to fish them out at the end. Simmer this for about 15 minutes. Simmer means a low rumble, don’t turn it to high and walk off. Not that I have ever done that.
After the simmering it’s time to add your other ingredients. I added spinach which I chopped roughly. I also added egg noodles and some leftover ditalini pasta. Who knows where that came from but it was in the pantry. This is a good time to take a quick look in the dark corners of your fridge and pantry. Ferret out things that need to go or you don’t know what to do with. Ask yourself, “would this be good in my soup?” and then dump at will.
Bring back to a simmer until newly added ingredients are hot and cooked through. Serve warm or put in your containers for dinner or the freezer!
What do you like to do with your Thanksgiving leftovers?