Last time in this space I promised to
weigh in on Thanksgiving leftovers.
As I started thinking about the leftover
“problem,” it occurred to me how lucky
we are to have it at all.
I mean, the last thing the Pilgrims were
worried about was all of their leftover
I have to admit, I’ve never had much of
a problem with Thanksgiving leftovers.
I’m peculiarly fond of food cold from
the fridge, and I can eat cold leftover
pie, turkey and cranberry sauce for days
However, my husband’s family has a
terrific ritual — and recipe — built
around leftover turkey, and I thought it
was worth sharing.
The dish is Aztec soup. I’m not sure
where the recipe came from — presumably
it’s named in homage to the Mexican
sopa Azteca, though the two are
In any event, a proper Aztec soup begins
with the kind of concentrated, golden
turkey stock that can only come from the
A word about stocks. When I make stock I
follow the classic procedure to the
letter: I skim off impurities, cook the
stock at a bare simmer and under no
circumstances let it boil.
When my mother-in-law makes stock she
dumps as many bones as she can find into
a pot of water and brings it to a
rolling boil. She turns it down when she
She leaves the pot on the stove for
several consecutive nights and boils it
every morning to make it safe for
consumption. If worthy table scraps
appear in the kitchen, well, they get
thrown in, too.
I’m the first to admit that my
mother-in-law’s stocks are in every way
superior to my own, though I can’t bring
myself to follow her method.
The point is, stock-making can be a
casual thing, no matter what any French
chef tells you to the contrary.
Here’s the basic idea. When you’ve
carved most of the meat from your
holiday turkey, put the carcass in a pot
and cover it with filtered water. (If
you’re ambitious, roast the bones first:
30 minutes at 400 degrees should turn
them brown and crackling.)
Bring the water to a boil, skimming off
any foam that collects on the surface.
Lower the heat and simmer for at least
four hours, longer if you’d like.
The more a stock reduces, the more it
congeals when cooled — which is a good
thing. (My mother-in-law’s stocks turn
as firm as Jell-O).
When you’ve run out of patience with
your stock, strain it and save the
liquid. There you go.
Now, for the soup. For about four
servings (multiply as required), you’ll
need one large white or yellow onion,
In a large pot, sauté the onion in two
tablespoons of vegetable oil. When it’s
soft, add two finely chopped garlic
cloves and sauté until golden.
While the onion is cooking, peel and
seed one small butternut squash. Chop
the flesh into one-inch cubes.
Add two quarts of stock to the onion,
then add the squash. Bring to a boil,
lower the heat and cook at a simmer
until the squash begins to soften.
Slice two zucchinis into half-moons. Add
to the pot along with two cups of
chopped cooked turkey meat.
When the butternut squash is soft, add
two cups of frozen corn kernels and a
half cup (or to taste) of chopped,
roasted green chile. Cook until heated
through. If the soup is too thick, add
more stock or water, then salt to taste.
Serve the soup with lime wedges, chopped
fresh cilantro and crumbled queso
fresco or grated Monterey Jack
Now there’s something to be thankful