Cajun Turkey Soup
Tasty Cajun Flavored Turkey Soup
To me, leftovers are the best part of a great Turkey dinner! As you all know, I make and use a lot of stock. This recipe is my version of a Tasty Cajun-Like Turkey Soup that makes use of every bit of your tasty bird.
2 Tablespoons butter
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 large green or red pepper, chopped
3 stalks of celery, chopped
3 large garlic cloves, finely minced or grated
1/2 cup long-grain rice
2 fresh bay leaves (or dried if you don't have fresh)
4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme (or 3/4 teaspoon dried)
2-3 Tablespoons Cajun or Creole Seasoning
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes
4 cups cooked turkey meat, diced
10-12 cups homemade turkey stock
Salt and pepper to taste
I like the Turkey to be a bit frozen when I chop it for the soup. I think it's easier to handle.
How much stock you use depends on your personal taste. Some people like more broth in their soup than others.
Before lots of you get upset because I am using Cajun and Creole interchangeably, please don't! I know that there is a difference in the cuisines. We just always call good Spicy Southern Cooking "Cajun".
Make Your Turkey Stock
I won't go into great detail here about making stock since you can read my How to Make Stock - Green Cooking Recipe. Just remember to remove the skin and any fat that you see before adding the carcus and neck to your stock pot.
Since I knew that I would be using this stock for this particular recipe (which calls for garlic), I added garlic scraps to the regular assortment of vegetables. I cut off and save these pieces when I prepare garlic to dry to make Homemade Garlic Powder and Garlic Salt.
I also added Thyme scraps. I always have an assortment of herb stems and leaves in a freezer bag. Since this recipe uses thyme, I threw in those scraps when I made my stock.
Make Your Rice Using Turkey Stock
Follow Directions on your package but be sure to use Turkey Stock, not water. I used long-grain rice this time. One cup of Turkey Stock to 1/2 cup rice. I've also used brown as well as flavored rice mixes (like Zatarain's).
Cajun Trinity: Onions, Bell Peppers and Celery
Then add Garlic
The basis for this recipe is the "Cajun Trinity" - Onions, Bell Pepper and Celery. I actually begin most of my long-cooked meals with these aromatic vegetables.
Melt your butter in the bottom of your soup pot over medium heat. I LOVE my Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Soup Pot. Add your onions and cook for a minute or two and then add your bell peppers and celery. For this recipe I used both green and red bell peppers because I had both on hand.
Cook these vegetables until they are soft. I always add a tad of salt and pepper - flavoring my dish every step of the way. The salt helps to draw out the moisture in your vegetables. Stir pretty often so that they don't burn. Usually takes around 8 minutes or so depending on your pot and level of heat.
Once your vegetables are soft, add your garlic and stir until you begin to smell it. I really like to grate my garlic instead of mincing it. I think it releases more of the garlic juice. Usually takes about 30 seconds or so before you "smell" it.. Be sure that you constantly stir the mixture so that you don't burn the garlic!
My favorite soup pot
Add Cajun or Creole Seasoning
In addition to using the "Cajun Trinity", I also add a bit of Cajun or Creole Seasoning. You can use a store-bought brand, like Tony Chachere or Zatarain's Creole Seasoning or make your own. I add the seasoning at different times during the cooking process. At this point, I want to "toast" the herbs in the mix just a bit to heighten their flavor so I make a small opening in the center of the pot and add a tablespoon and stir. Be sure to blend it into your vegetable mixture. The Trinity vegetables "take on flavors" so let everything cook a couple of minutes and meld together.
I like Emeril's Seasoning Mix and always have some on hand. Combine all the following ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight container. Makes about 2/3 cup.
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
1 tablespoon dried leaf thyme
Add Whole Tomatoes - Crushed
Now add your whole tomatoes, one at a time. I break them up in my fingers as I add them. Stir well and cook for several minutes so that the tomatoes lose some of their "raw" flavor. Taste the mixture and, if the tomatoes are acidic or "tinny", add a bit of sugar. Stir again and let cook for another minute or two.
If you like things spicy, add more Creole Seasoning and/or additional Cayenne Pepper at this time. Stir well and cook for a few minutes.
Be sure to taste your "soup" as you move through each step and adjust seasonings as you go along. I think that it's important to develop a flavorful soup base BEFORE you add your stock.
Sometimes tomatoes are just really acidic. If you find that they are, you can add 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda and stir well. The Ph in the baking soda counteracts the acidity in the tomatoes. Don't add too much or your soup base will taste "off."
You can use other types of tomatoes too. Sometimes I use a can or two of Roasted Tomatoes. I also Roast my own Tomatoes during the summer and freeze them. Using homemade roasted tomatoes just means that you won't have as much tomatoe juice in your soup.
Taste and Adjust Seasonings
This is a bit different than most Turkey Soup Recipes because I add my Turkey now instead of at the end. I like to "cook" it a bit so that it can meld and pick up flavors from Cajun Trinity and seasonings. I also cut up my turkey when it's a bit frozen. I think it's easier to handle AND picks up more flavors from soup base as it defrosts and heats up in the pot.
As always, taste, taste, taste and adjust your seasonings. You can make this as spicy as you want! Remember that your rice and stock (if you make it like I do - you make it without salt) will be somewhat bland. If things seem to taste too "strong" now, it's okay because they will mellow. On the other hand, if things taste "bland" now, they'll be more bland when you add the rice and stock.
I like the depth of flavor that you get when you season as you go, and wait until the end to make minor adjustments. PLUS, I always think that the flavor in herbs and spices are enhanced when heated/cooked prior to adding any liquid.
Add Cooked Rice
Taste and Adjust Seasoning
I like to add my cooked rice at this point so that it can soak up tomato and seasoning flavors. Stir it well and cook for a few minutes. Taste, taste, taste and add seasonings if needed.
At this point you've made a type of turkey hash. You COULD eat it as is!
Add Stock, Thyme and Bay Leaves
Simmer for an Hour or So and you have Turkey Soup!
Now add your Stock, sprigs of fresh Thyme and fresh Bay Leaves. Stir well and cook for several minutes. Your burner should be set so that your soup is simmering, not boiling.
How much stock you add is up to you! Remember that some of the water in the stock will boil away as it simmers. If you like it "soupy", add more stock and adjust seasonings. If you like more of a "stoup", then don't add as much. I usually add about 10 cups of stock.
I let it simmer for an hour or so. As always, taste, taste, taste and adjust your seasonings.
Take out the Bay Leaves and Sprigs of Thymer. Serve and Enjoy! This soup freezes well too although we rarely have any left!