One of my most vivid memories of my dad in the kitchen is his turkey soup. As I recall, he only made it right after Thanksgiving, but it made enough that it would last into spring. There is a lot of soup-making wisdom out there, but this was old-school soup. Folklore-style soup. I am quite sure there was no recipe, but each year’s batch turned out pretty much the same.
After stripping the roasted turkey carcass of most of the meat, it then went into a giant stainless-steel pot with water, carrot, onion, celery, and spices (not sure which). I don’t think I ever watched him concoct this soup from the beginning, so I can’t be sure of the particulars, but I know these are the basics. Either way, it boiled all day. It boiled to the point of steaming up the upstairs windows. It boiled to the point that my clothes would smell like turkey soup when I went to school the next day.
In the pot, the soup turned into a translucent pale-yellow primordial conglomeration of vegetables, dried herbs, and turkey bits. The surface of the swirling brew would occasionally be broken by a disarticulated turkey bone. It was kind of scary. Egg noodles usually went in at the end. The bones were removed and dinner was served.
I remember never being terribly crazy about the soup – the little turkey bits freaked me out as a kid. Now, though, I would give anything to taste it again. I have since tried to make turkey soup myself, but it wasn’t the same – I overthought it. To make the turkey soup in my memory, you have to not care too much and just go for it. And boil the snot out of the poor bird.
That giant pot still smells like turkey soup.