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The secret to great turkey soup is a deeply flavored broth, and the secret to that is to jump on it soon after Thanksgiving, while the carcass is still meaty and moist. That’s why I feel obligated to publish this now instead of a bit later in the week.

Naturally, I’m hoping that you followed the path of least resistance (as I did) and simply refrigerated your turkey leftovers on the bone, wrapped in a swatch of burnished skin underneath that helmet of foil. And then opted for a change of pace on Friday, indulging in a really great pizza or skipping dinner entirely in favor of popcorn and the early evening showing of Lincoln.

Turkey broth is staggeringly simple to make (you just add water), and even if the remains of the day were disposed of after the meal—or you were a guest in someone’s home and have no remains—all is not lost. Take advantage of the season and get yourself to the grocery store. There are turkey wings, necks, drumsticks, and sometimes even  the gelatin-rich feet, practically for the asking. You can extend Thanksgiving by making your soup this week, or you can freeze the broth and make soup at a later date. Stracciatella made with turkey broth, late at night in December, after holiday shopping or the opera? I am there. And grateful, all over again.

Turkey Broth 

A turkey carcass, including skin, plus wings and neck (if they haven’t already disappeared)

1. Break the carcass apart into manageable pieces. Salvage enjoyably large pieces of meat for sandwiches or a pot pie, but keep what my former colleague Zanne Stewart calls “a generous fringe” of meat on the frame. Keep the turkey wings and neck whole, and do not throw away a single scrap of skin.

2. Put everything into a large pot and cover with about 3 inches of water. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Uncover the pot and reduce heat to keep the liquid at a gentle simmer. Set a timer for 3 hours, a nice chunk of time in which to read a novel or re-organize the hall closet. No matter how you choose to spend the time, the fragrance emanating from the kitchen will give you—and every man, woman, or child who walks through the door—a sense of well-being.

3. Remove the bones, skin, and any odd bits drifting around. Let the broth cool, uncovered,  completely, and I mean completely. (If you refrigerate hot broth or soup in a sealed airtight container, it will sour on you.) Refrigerate the broth about 8 hours, or overnight.

4. Remove and discard the congealed fat from the chilled broth. Gently heat the broth over moderate heat. Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary. Strain the broth through a fine sieve into a bowl (discard the solids). At this point, you may want to let the broth cool completely, then freeze it. Or, if you want immediate gratification, keep reading.

… and Turkey Soup

Heat a nice glug of olive oil in a pot over moderately high heat. Add a smallish onion, chopped; a medium carrot or two, sliced; ditto celery stalks. Cook until barely golden, then add the turkey broth and simmer until the vegetables are tender. Stir in some shredded turkey meat and some cooked rice or pasta to taste and warm through. Heaven.

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