Thursday 14 October 2021

Stretching Leftovers: Turkey and White Bean Soup

Last weekend was Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada. If I'm honest about it, Thanksgiving's never been a really big deal for me. It's always nice to have an extra day to visit with family and friends. Other than that I can quite happily let it slide by without any sort of observance, even more so since my husband passed away almost seven years ago. Cooking a traditional turkey dinner for just me seems more work than it's worth, and it's 'way too much food for a single person.

This year, I planned to have macaroni and tomatoes on Thanksgiving, with a salad on the side. That would've made me quite happy. It's quick, simple to prepare, inexpensive, and comforting. I did end up getting a turkey dinner though. On Sunday night, I had an after-dinner visit with friends and they sent me home with a generous plateful of leftovers from their Thanksgiving feast.

I'm all about making the maximum number of meals from whatever protein I'm cooking with, so I looked at that generous dinner - roasted potatoes and carrots, Brussels sprouts, stuffing, and turkey - and decided to figure out a way to make at least two meals of it. 

When I got home that evening, I put some dry white beans to soak overnight.  The next morning, I treated myself to the veggies and stuffing for breakfast (so good!) and I used the beans and the turkey to make a soup for supper that night. 

When it was time to make the soup, I gathered these ingredients: 

  • The pre-soaked white beans
  • 4 cups of homemade stock (I used an all-vegetable stock this time but chicken or turkey stock would be good too.)
  • A bay leaf, a couple of sprigs of thyme, some parsley, a couple of sage leaves, and 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 cup of gravy (I used leftover chicken gravy from the freezer but if you have leftover turkey gravy, all the better)
  • Approximately 1/2 cup of diced, cooked turkey breast
  • A few chives for garnish
I put the white beans in a saucepan and poured the stock over them, then bundled the bay leaf, thyme, parsley, sage, and garlic together in a piece of cheesecloth, tied it off with some butcher's twine and added it to the pot too. I brought the pot to a boil, turned it down to simmer, put a lid on it, and walked away.  I returned after half an hour to begin checking on how tender the beans were and kept checking every 10 minutes or so until I decided they were at the right texture for me. (It took about 50 minutes.)

Once the beans were cooked I drained them, discarding the cheesecloth bundle of aromatics and reserving the stock I'd cooked the beans in. 

I set aside about 1/3 of the cooked beans and transferred the rest to my blender.  I added in the gravy together with enough stock to allow the blender to do its work, and hit the puree button. I checked the thickness of the puree and added in enough stock to thin it to a soup consistency.

The last step was to return the puree and reserved beans to the pot, stir in the chopped turkey, and reheat the soup. 

When it was heated through again, I tasted the soup to see if I needed to add salt and decided to leave it just as it was. All that was left to do after that was to ladle it into a bowl and snip a few chives over the top.

Simple, right?  It was surprisingly tasty.

This recipe made just over 3 cups of soup; enough for my supper and for lunch the following day.  

There was stock left over from cooking the beans so I cooled it, put it in the fridge, and used it to cook rice a couple of days later. Beans are rich in solable fiber so the stock not only brought flavour to the rice but added nutritional value as well.

I hope I can encourage you to think about ways to stretch a small amount of animal protein over a larger number of servings. With meat and poultry prices being what they are, it's a useful skill to have. 

If you have any questions about this recipe or suggestions for ways to use less meat to make more servings please do share them.  I always learn so much from you guys!


A glimpse of my kitchen said...

That sounds so delicious!

Aunt B said...

@A glimpse of my kitchen, Thank you. I enjoyed it. :)