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Turkey Barley Soup (or, what to do with All Those Leftovers?)

November 26th, 2011

Turkey Barley Soup

Turkey Barley Soup

Here’s hoping that everyone celebrating Thanksgiving (and those who aren’t as well) is having a great weekend so far!

If you’ve hosted a Thanksgiving meal this year, you might have on your hands a lot of leftover turkey – to which I say, “Great!” No, really. I mean it. Because that means you’ll have plenty of meat left over to make this soup, and the more meat and flavour there is in your soup, the heartier it will be.

This year our (Canadian) Thanksgiving hosting duties consisted of a small family dinner, and a large “orphans'” dinner for friends who were away from their hometowns during the holiday. As a result, we had two turkeys from which to make soup. I’m not the biggest fan of turkey and have strayed from the traditional turkey dinner in previous years, making fish, roast beef, and other poultry, but my siblings specifically requested turkey this year and so, I gave the ol’ bird another try. It turned out wonderful, but even with 25 mouths to feed over the weekend we had plenty of turkey left over, for the birds we had purchased were quite large.

So without further ado, here’s the recipe! Don’t forego the citrus in the soup – it adds a wonderful brightness and dimension that complements the savoury flavour of the turkey.

Turkey Barley Soup

For each turkey:
1 lemon (I had this stuffed in the cavity of the turkey while roasting)
1/2 orange (I also had this stuffed in the cavity of the turkey while roasting)
3 stalks parsley
3 sprigs of thyme
6 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 ribs of celery, sliced
2 large carrots, sliced (I used heirloom carrots of different colours for fun)
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp black peppercorns
3/4 cup pearl barley, uncooked
salt to taste

Remove large pieces of meat that remain on the turkey and reserve. Bend the body of the turkey until it breaks apart into two, so it will fit into your pot. Place the turkey bones in a large pot with lemon, orange, thyme, parsley and garlic cloves and add water to cover. Boil on low heat, covered, for 4-6 hours, until the bones are falling apart. Strain into another large pot, pressing on solids to extract all the liquid. Scrape pulp out of lemon and orange and into the liquid. Skim oil from the top of the broth, and reserve any large pieces of turkey meat.

Add celery, carrots, bay leaf, and peppercorns to the broth and bring to a boil on low heat. Add barley and cook, covered, until tender, approx 1 hour. Add reserved pieces of turkey meat and cook another hour.

Add salt to taste and serve.

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