Fried Turkey Bones Give Winter Soup A Tasty Base

I’m a cold weather lover. So when this morning’s temperature dropped from a muggy 75+ degrees (it’s December, dammit!) to a steely 55 degrees in a the space of an hour, the day looked fabulous. Windows open! The possibility of jeans without sweat! Dare I hope–a jacket? SWEET.

Naturally, I wanted something hot to eat. Naturally, I didn’t want to cook. So I perused the fridge for something to reheat (I love leftovers almost as much as cold weather). What’s brought a smile to my tastebuds today is a bowl of my personal variety of “stone soup,” the direct results of Thanksgiving’s bounty.

It all started with some old veggies and a fried turkey carcass.

Bowl of vegetable and turkey stock soup with a bird napkins.
My version of “stone soup” was perfect on a blustery December day. Photo Credit: Leah Nyfeler

Old Vegetables + Fried Turkey Bones = Tasty Soup

Thanksgiving wreaks havoc with regular eating. Thanks to all the special holiday dishes I’d prepared (for our Wednesday meal, which the kids call “Pre-giving,” and actual turkey day at my mom’s house), my CSA vegetables languished, forgotten and forlorn. Assessing the veggie bin’s contents revealed a sad collection of wilted collard greens, slightly stale purple carrots, and wrinkled turnips.

Adding to the what-do-I-cook-with-these bounty were roasted vegetables. On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, we Nyfelers hold our “thankful party.” We roast a pig (yep; a whole pig, on a spit, in the backyard) and enjoy the fire, adult beverages, and an afternoon outside with family and friends.

Pig roasting on a spit at the Nyfeler's annual backyard pig roast, 2017.
This brined beauty came from local butcher shop, Dai Due. Photo Credit: James Nyfeler

Part of the annual pig roast spread includes foil packets stuffed full of onion, mushrooms, peppers, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, and tiny potatoes in olive oil (and a little pat of butter, because butter), tucked among the coals to cook.

All those odds and ends brought to mind the wonderful children’s classic, Stone Soup! by Marcia Brown.  I’d just throw everything into one pot, cook it up, and call it done.

But soup’s need a base, right?

Making Your Own Stock is Easy

Oh, I had the perfect thing for my stone soup base: a fried turkey carcass. Our good friends, Carey and Holly Dietert, had brought their deep fryer and a turkey to that Saturday pig roast.

Now, if you’ve never eaten fried turkey, I pity you.

Carey fries several turkeys every year, and he’s become a master. That crispy skin…the moist meat…yeah, we were totally cool with their menu addition.

At the end of the evening, we swapped meat leftovers and I got the turkey carcass. Ever since taking a home butchery class, I’ve saved chicken bones to make stock but I’d never kept a big ol’ turkey skeleton. “Just throw that in a pot with water,” Holly instructed. “You really don’t need any seasoning–it’s so flavorful as is.”

Recipe for chicken broth in binder along with chicken bones in Ziplock bag
Put leftover rotisserie chicken bones in the freezer to make stock later. Photo Credit: Leah Nyfeler

So into the big Dutch oven went the turkey carcass. I added enough water to cover and simmer for some two hours. As a freelancer, I work out of the house, so it’s quite easy to put a pot on the stove and still be productive.

After fishing out the bones and depositing them in our new City of Austin curbside composting bin (I LOVE that I can recycle bones!), I added onion, celery, those leftover roasted vegetables, ribbons of collards (sans stems), thinly sliced carrot rounds, and those wrinkled turnips (cubed) to the liquid. A bit o’ seasoning (rosemary and sage, from the yard) and I let that pot full of stone soup burble until everything was soft.

That’s it. The recipe, basically, involved cleaning out the fridge:

  • I put a turkey carcass in water,
  • simmered for two hours,
  • strained the liquid with a ladle (homemade turkey stock!),
  • added assorted veggies,
  • and cooked until soft.

So on this unexpected, wintery-feeling day, I could reheat my stone soup and happily warm my insides–and my heart–with tasty Thanksgiving leftovers.

Bowl of vegetable and turkey stock soup with a bird napkins.
My version of “stone soup” was perfect on a blustery December day. Photo Credit: Leah Nyfeler


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Published by Leah Nyfeler

I'm a writer, editor, runner, and adventurer who is always looking for the next new story, exciting adventure, and good meal/book/movie. My focus is on helping people find their best, healthiest self through sharing what I know and how I've come to learn it. In addition to my blog "Enjoying the Journey: Observations on the Fit Life" at, my articles have appeared in a variety of print and online magazines. You can hear me as part of the 2015 Austin cast of Listen To Your Mother.

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