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Nov 30, 2008 11:39 AM

Turkey soup- can it be improved?

My mother has, for 40 years, made turkey soup the same way: Take the turkey carcass (which had been stuffed with dressing), toss it in the freezer for an undetermined length of time, and then when it is time to make the soup, toss the carcass in a big pot with water and make a stock/broth out of it. Vegetables are added, noodles or rice and voila! Turkey soup, gallons of it, frozen in 4 meal portions for the entire year.

The problem with her soup is that, while it is tasty, it is cloudy and unappetizing looking because the turkey bones have the remnants of stuffing cooked along with it. I am not sure if there is a way to clarify the broth before other veggies get added to it, or if she should try rinsing the stuffing off either before it gets frozen or before it goes into the soup pot.

Can anyone offer some helpful suggestions to make mom's turkey soup look a little more palatable?

Thank you!

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  1. I am genetically incapable of tossing out a carcass, so I make turkey stock even though I like chicken stock better. Even if I'm making the latter with remnants of cooked chicken, it has more gelatin than turkey stock, and the gelatin adds to richness and mouth feel. In either case, chunks of carrot, celery, and onion go in along with the bones/meat/skin, and are strained out once the stock is finished. When making soup containing vegetables, new ones are added.
    I'm not sure that it's the stuffing making the turkey stock cloudy - seems to me that when I used to boil raw whole turkeys for pet food (I know, nuts - eventually I discovered how tender and juicy that meat was, and we shared!) the broth was cloudier and darker than boiled chicken, even if I skimmed the scum.
    Since it doesn't have the body of chicken stock, I use the turkey stock for thicker soups and reserve the chicken for chicken noodle/rice/barley, where the color and gelatin are more important. Right now I am making curried squash and apple soup with some turkey stock. This is a pureed cream soup. My preferred French onion soup is with a mix of turkey stock and beef base (Better Than Bouillon brand).
    You can strain through cotton cheesecloth to remove some of the tiny solids, and there's something about boiling the stock with eggshell and egg white, then straining with cheesecloth. I have a feeling that I once read that adding baking soda to chicken stock helps clarify it but I could be way off here - you might try simmering a little in a cup of stock to see what happens. I know that for very clear, light chicken broth, you start by bringing the chicken to a boil, then pouring off the water and replacing it with fresh water. I'd rather just make a pureed or legume soup!

    1. This has nothing to do with having a clearer stock, but when adding the carcass, I like to break it in two.

      Now, as for the clarity of the stock, you might try straining it through cheesecloth, chill it and strain again. That should help somewhat.

      1. I was taught that the key to making a clearer broth is to de-scum it; i.e.; skim off as much of the froth that arises when the carcass/water first come to a boil as you can. So, I do that, and, then, when I finally take it off the heat, I use a white paper towel to lightly skim whatever fat I can get off the surface. Then I chilll it, overnight if possible, and scrape the layer of solid fat off the top.

        I don't know that my liquid is the *clearest* you'll ever see, but I wouldn't say it's cloudy. But of those steps, gdsto, the de-scumming is the most important, if you want to clarify your broths.. I really don't know how the stuffing changes the equation, though.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Steady Habits

          In my experience, scum isn't that much of a problem when making stock from cooked meat and bones, because the frothy gray scum is blood.

          1. re: greygarious

            My understanding has been that it is exactly those solids (once cooked) that murk it up, but...I don't know, grey--I'm not a scientist, and I'm just happy if it tastes good. :-) And, again, I don't know how the stuffing would affect the broth, anyway.

        2. From what I have read and experienced, the secret to keeping it from getting cloudy is to never bring it to a full boil. It needs to gently simmer. Here is a good recipe:

          2 Replies
          1. re: danhole

            I agree with danhole - the only way to get a clear broth is to keep it from ever reaching a full boil (per Julia Child too). Other things I like to do are break up the bones a little which allows the marrow to provide a slight gel to the broth and brown them in a bit of oil before adding the water. Then I add whole peppercorns, whole celery stalks, carrots, a few roughly chopped onions, a bay leaf or two, and just enough salt to "taste" the broth - waiting to add the rest of the salt until the broth has reduced to your liking. The best stock I've ever made I left on a very low simmer overnight. It was amazing in the morning. Strain, chill, remove any fat, and then make the soup. A long process, but well worth it - especially if you go ahead and make a large quantity that can be enjoyed over several meals.


            1. re: Phoo_d


              I do almost the same thing, but I also add fresh parley, some thyme, and a couple cloves of garlic. I don't add salt until the very end, and to taste. And I also crack the bones up into smaller pieces. It is time consuming. I usually make it a couple days before, get the vegetables out, and then put in the fridge, to get the fat off. After that I re-warm it, and then strain through a sieve to get any chunky stuff out - usually there isn't too much. The end results are fantastic and what I don't use to cook with goes into the freezer for future use.

          2. Would it work to clarify the broth as you would a consomme? i.e. taking egg whites, ground meat, veggies, and adding them to the stock. Then lifting out the cooked raft of egg whites that hopefully picked up all the impurities.