“Many hands make light work.” Ha! Two hands can make a lot of dirty dishes.
The “many hands” bromide – is that something I remember from my New England upbringing? Or was it Laura Ingalls Wilder twisting hay to provide warmth, ensuring the family’s survival through the Long Winter? Or was it Jo March upbraiding herself while scuttling some coal for the downtrodden Hummel family? Nope. Around here, the philosophy seems to be, one set of hands can make a mess. Never mind. I’ve got dishes to wash.
I had imagined that after all the multi-course, multi-chef, multiple-dish cooking we did for Thanksgiving that life would simplify itself. That we would go recipe-less. Carefree dinners that seemingly cooked themselves, or in the merest flash, as the New York Times food editors keep assuring me is possible. One-pot, one-pan dinners that shopped for themselves. Dinners with three ingredients or fewer, that would be delicious and nutritious. I have swallowed hook, line and sinker the fantasy, (though much-photographed) life of Martha Stewart. I forget that she has a staff of off-screen minions, and she undoubtedly swans out of one house when the sink fills up with dishes, and is teleported to another, so she can start all over again. And she probably does it in backwards and in high heels. I am sporting yoga leggings and sneakers, looking at the sink, full of pots, pans, dishes, spoons, mixing bowls and measuring cups. All of the detritus you see in the illustration came from one dinner: turkey soup, made from one leftover turkey.
The soup took an entire afternoon to prepare, and then another afternoon to simmer. It is a good thing that I work from home, so I could keep an eye on its progress. I do prefer working in my studio, though, instead of pecking out my tales of woe sitting at the kitchen island, cataloging the number of times I have wiped down the counters, mopped up the floor, chased the ever-hopeful scrap-begging dog away. I am about ready to get in the car and head for McDonald’s. A burger that someone else has cooked is my new epicurean fantasy. With an order of exquisitely hot and salty fries, please.
Everyone has a family recipe for turkey soup. My mother was of the age that thumped the Joy of Cooking as their sacred cook book. Irma Rombauer is a little vague about turkey soup. She talks about chicken broth – “A good dish for a convalescent, but not to be scorned by those in the best of health.” Then she generalizes about poultry stock and calls for 4 pounds of poultry, 4 quarts of water, white peppercorns, a bay leaf, thyme, cloves, parsley, an onion, celery and a diced carrot. Then 3 hours of simmering, skimming, and fussing. Followed by dishwashing.
Mark Bittman is the logical next step. Once you have the stock, follow his instructions for leftover turkey soup: Turkey-Noodle Soup With Star Anise and Ginger “Cook chopped onion, carrot, celery, garlic and ginger in neutral oil until soft, then add chicken or turkey stock, and a few pieces of whole star anise, and bring to a boil. Cook udon or soba noodles in boiling salted water until almost done; drain and stir them into the soup, along with shredded turkey; heat through, and discard the star anise before serving. Garnish: Scallions.” https://www.markbittman.com/recipes-1/what-to-do-with-all-those-thanksgiving-leftovers
Martha’s method is pretty straightforward: https://www.marthastewart.com/856044/turkey-noodle-soup
As always, I love the way the folks at Food52 think. They suggest using store-bought stock. What an excellent concept! Had I followed this recipe I might have cut down on a few dozen dirty pots and pans: https://food52.com/recipes/84466-best-turkey-soup-recipe
This Craig Claiborne and Pierre Franey recipe from the New York Times is NOT a one-pan dish. It beats the Joy of Cooking list of ingredients by a mile, at least:
3 ½ pounds cooked turkey bones from which most of the meat has been removed
Pieces of leftover cooked turkey skin
16 cups water
½ cup or more leftover giblet gravy, optional
1 bay leaf
6 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
2 cups coarsely chopped celery tops
1 cup coarsely chopped scraped carrots
1 cup coarsely chopped peeled onion
1 cup coarsely chopped green part of leeks
6 parsley sprigs
Salt to taste, if desired
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 cups carrots, scraped and cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 cups celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 ½ cups finely chopped white part of leeks
½ cup finely chopped peeled onion
2 cups fresh red, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cups zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
½ teaspoon finely minced garlic
½ cup orzo (rice-shaped Greek pasta)
1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
1 cup cooked turkey, white or dark meat, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Put the bones in a kettle and add any leftover turkey skin.
Add the water, giblet gravy, bay leaf, thyme, celery tops, coarsely chopped carrots, coarsely chopped onion, green part of leeks, parsley, salt and pepper. Bring to the boil and let simmer one hour. As the broth cooks, skim off and discard any scum, foam and fat that rises to the surface.
Strain the broth into a clean kettle, discarding the solids, and skim off all fat from the top. Bring to the boil and add the diced carrots, diced celery, white part of leeks, finely chopped onion, tomatoes, zucchini and garlic. Let simmer about 10 minutes, then add the orzo. Continue cooking five minutes and add the corn kernels and cubed turkey meat. Continue cooking 15 minutes. Stir in the parsley. Serve with the grated Parmesan cheese on the side.
Good luck to you if you choose the last recipe. I’ll bring you some fries.
“Dishes are one of the tools that support life. Please take great care when using them.”
― Shoukei Matsumoto