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Thursday, December 12, 2013



A recent post from that fine blogger, one Chubby Chatterbox, inspired this post. 

My mother shared the same turkey saving depression era habits as did the Chatterbox’s mom.  Our holiday birds were never wasted.  They lasted for weeks.  Every part of that bird was used including the neck (yuck!) the heart (what the hell makes giblets?) and even the gizzard.  In fact the gizzard was much prized and fought over by my brothers Jim and Chris.  I might have also liked the gizzard and joined in on the battle, except Chris made it very clear that I did not like gizzard.  I thought I did, but he was probably right.


After the main meal, the turkey was the source of sandwiches for two to three days.  When sandwiches were over, the carcass was turned to soup.  It was boiled until every last flake of turkey joined the watery broth that the boiled carcass provided.  Into the watery turkey flaked broth went celery, carrots and rice.  Into that mixture went more rice and then even more rice.

My mother raved about her turkey soup.  To her it was the best part of the holiday.  The turkey soup lasted several weeks.  We had turkey soup for almost every dinner and many lunches.  By the time we finished the Thanksgiving turkey soup, the Christmas bird was about ready to be turned into even more soup.

I hated turkey soup.  I still hate turkey soup.

The mother of three of my children always planned on making turkey soup.  As long as there was meat on the carcass she kept it in the kitchen covered with a damp towel until it was ready to be turned into soup.  Her ambition was always greater than her action.  She never made soup from the carcass.  I never complained.  I hate turkey soup.  It did bother the heck out of me that our small refrigerator was shrunk even more because we had to save that damn carcass for weeks until it was finally decided that it was too old for soup.

When my children’s mom left for a better spousal opportunity, I began a new tradition that lived beyond my second wife and still exists in todays era of Mrs. Cranky. 

I call it the traditional tossing of the carcass.

When our holiday dinner is over, I carve off all the white meat and place it in a Tupperware container for future sandwiches.  I then carve up all the dark meat and place it in a separate Tupperware container also for future sandwiches.  Finally when the carcass is picked reasonably clean of potential sandwich filling, I announce with much fanfare the tossing of the carcass.

I grab a son to hold open a garbage bag. 

“We thank you O bird for a delicious meal and for many delicious sandwiches to come.  To appease the God of the great bird, we sacrifice the soup making carcass.”

With that, the carcass is dropped into the bag.  The bag is sealed and immediately thrown into the can in the garage.  The room in the refrigerator that the carcass does not occupy is reserved for multiple pies.

I hate turkey soup.

I love pie.      


  1. This great. It speaks to so many parts of me I don't know which one to let have the floor.

    First, I am glad to discover that other people covered their bird with a wet towel. My folks did this, so I naturally did it, too. I never even considered, until fairly recently, what sort of hideous bacterial forms I could be encouraging by so doing.

    Second, I now forgo the towel and trim off every bit of meat on the bird as my last chore on Thanksgiving evening. I, too, hate the lack of room in the fridge, so I decided a couple of years back to discard the bones and keep the meat. I have never regretted that decision.

  2. To me it's one word: turkeyanddressing. Turkey without dressing is a no-go. And coming from a proud heritage of the culinary challenged, we never even tried turkey soup, which is fine with me because I'm not big on soup. I was raised to believe soup was what you ate (drank?) when you were sick. I'm rarely sick.


  3. if we have a turkey carcass, it gets tossed into the pond for fish and turtle feasting. :)

  4. Yes, I tried to follow my depression-era mother in squeezing every last nutrient from the turkey and finally gave up. Nobody wants that unless they are seriously starving. Since turkey carcasses don't do well in the mail I tried something else. I put mine outside in the vacant lot. It was gone in the morning.

  5. Thanks for the shout out. The problem with turkey soup is that by the time the carcass is picked clean for soup I've been eating turkey for days and the last thing I want is turkey anything. Strange that on New Year's we always order a Honey Baked Ham and Mrs. C. freezes the bone and makes wonderful white beans and ham sometime in February. I guess we just like ham more than turkey. Take care.

  6. Whenever we have turkey, I make soup. Not for eating and/or drinking. It goes directly into the freezer & makes a wonderful base for gravy for our NEXT turkey!!

  7. Even at my advanced age of 50 something and my marital years totaling 19, I have never cooked a turkey. My husband has cooked a couple though.
    We are/were usually the guests of my parents or his (now gone on). However, my mother sends the carcass with me. Well, actually, she cleans the bones and sends the meat with me. It sits in the fridge a few days until I feel like chopping it up to make the annual turkey salad (Miracle Whip, relish and garlic seasoning). This years batch was eaten before we got bored of it.

    This post - another LOL!

  8. I have never cooked nor been served turkey soup. No wet towel on the carcass. My mom salvages the meat on demand. The turkey takes up lots of room in her harvest-gold refrigerator, covered with the original foil that was placed over it Thanksgiving day.

  9. I've made the soup a couple of times but never wasted fridge space saving the carcass for very long. Soup usually got started the next morning. But it's never as tasty a soup as soup that is cooked from raw poultry so I gave up and now toss the carcass after picking it clean.

  10. I, too, despise turkey soup. I have been subjected to worse than turkey soup. After the carcass is picked, the skeleton is simmered until it has gone to nothing. Then all put through the food processor and the puree frozen and saved for turkey soup stock. I dare you to top that. I have peanut butter if turkey in any form appears. I start at the top of the food chain. I despise turkey.

  11. Do you play music during the Tossing of the Carcass? It seems a nice bagpipe band playing a rousing tune would be fitting... ;-)

    I LOVE turkey soup. I love turkey. I love turkey leftovers. I've been invited to someone else's house for Thanksgiving and ended up making a turkey the weekend after, just to have my own turkey and leftovers. We have turkey on Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and sometimes on other holidays such as Coronation Day, the Third Sunday of February, etc.

  12. Mmm, turkey soup. Great one day in a row.