Once the mandatory day-after turkey sandwiches have been consumed, I find the flavors of Thanksgiving start to become less and less appealing. The problem is my refrigerator is often still packed with leftovers.
That’s when I start looking for clever ways to use them, and the soup pot is a good place to start.
It’s ritual for many to take the remnants of their roasted bird and make soup. So this idea may not feel earth-shatteringly new, but I give it my own spin by taking the traditional post-Thanksgiving soup in an Italian direction with this week’s Day-After Italian Wedding Soup.
Garlicky, brothy and packed with tiny meatballs, shredded turkey and greens, this soup is hearty enough to satisfy everyone in the family.
It’s also a flexible recipe. The broth could come from your turkey or could be store-bought chicken broth. If there’s no leftover turkey meat, rotisserie chicken works just as well.
The meatballs are made with both ground pork and beef, but the unseasoned meatloaf mix found in most grocery store meat counters is a great substitution.
Eggs are beaten with Parmesan cheese and swirled in at the end of the cooking process to create tiny strands that give the soup an added richness. If you don’t enjoy eggs in your soup, you can leave them out (although I recommend you give them a try).
This recipe makes a large batch but freezes beautifully. If I know I’m going to freeze some, I will cook the pasta separately, adding a little to each bowl before ladling in the hot soup. I will do this even if I plan on refrigerating the leftovers. (It prevents the pasta from soaking up the broth and becoming mushy.) Just toss the remaining pasta with a little olive oil and freeze it in a separate container.
You could serve this with a crisp green salad, but I find crusty bread and glass of wine is all I need.
Day-After Italian Wedding Soup
Note: Hearty, brothy and garlicky, this Italian soup is a delicious way to use some of your turkey leftovers in a meal that’s a nice break from the flavors of Thanksgiving. No turkey left? No problem. Chicken works just as well. Meatloaf mix (unseasoned) can be substituted for the beef and pork. From Meredith Deeds.
• 2 slices hearty white bread, torn into pieces
• 1/2 c. milk
• 4 large eggs, lightly beaten, divided
• 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving, divided
• 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped, divided
• 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
• 3/4 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
• 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
• 6 oz. ground pork
• 6 oz. ground beef
• 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
• 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
• 10 c. turkey broth or low-sodium chicken stock
• 1 bunch kale or Swiss chard, stemmed, leaves chopped
• 1/2 c. uncooked acini di pepi, orzo or any small pasta
• 2 1/2 c. shredded cooked turkey or chicken
For the meatballs: In a medium bowl, combine the bread and milk and let stand for 5 minutes. Mash to a paste with a fork. Add 1 egg, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, 2 cloves chopped garlic, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper and mix to combine. Add pork and beef and gently mix. Form into 40 small meatballs.
For the soup: Heat oil in a 5-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Cook remaining 3 cloves garlic and red pepper flakes until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add broth and bring to boil. Stir in kale and simmer until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in meatballs and pasta, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until meatballs are cooked through and pasta is just al dente, about 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the chicken. Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper. Whisk the remaining 3 eggs and remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese in a medium bowl to blend. Gently stir the soup as you gradually drizzle the egg mixture into the swirling liquid. Stop stirring as soon as the egg is all in. Serve with extra cheese on the side.
Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Instagram at @meredithdeeds.