Turkey pho soup
Homemade turkey soup at its best
I love to make turkey soup with my Thanksgiving turkey carcass. This year I was inspired by Winnie Ab's Turkey Pho recipe published on Food 52 and Charles Phan's pho discussion in his cookbook Vietnamese Home Cooking. I use Winnie's general method, but make some changes in the flavoring and ingredients of this soup. The result is a very fragrant, soothing winter soup.
It all starts with the stock
I recommend making homemade stock if you are lucky enough to own a leftover turkey carcass. Here is my recipe for homemade Asian-style stock. If you don't have a turkey carcass, don't despair. You can make stock using some turkey thighs and wings or even a chicken.
Or....you can use canned chicken stock. I'm not saying it will be the same, because a soup made with canned stock never is. Pho is all about a clear fragrant broth and canned chicken stock will never achieve the clarity and fragrance of a homemade stock. That said, I still think it is better to make a soup with canned stock than to make no soup at all.
If you have homemade stock this soup takes just a few minutes to make. If you use canned soup you will need to add some flavor by toasting some star anise, coriander and cumin seeds for a couple minutes in a hot pan. Add the toasted spices to the stock along with several slices of fresh ginger. Bring the stock to a boil and let it simmer for 20 minutes. Strain these spices out along with the ginger before you add the vegetables and seasonings.
Seasoning the broth
When I was cooking with Thai cooks earlier this year, I learned that the Thai sweet, sour, bitter balance is achieved by taste and not measurement. You add a little fish sauce, sugar and lime and them taste and adjust. The same is true when you season this soup. That is why I put a range on the measurements. That way you can customize the brown sugar and the Thai fish sauce to achieve a taste that is balanced and delicious to you.
Rice noodles come in round and flat styles. The flat noodles are traditionally used for pho. Flat rice noodles also come in different widths. My local grocery store only carries a wider flat noodle so that is what I use. Pre-cook the rice noodles to package instruction or until tender, drain rinse and reserve until you are ready to put your soup together.
Use lots of fresh vegetables
I like to add snow peas, shiitake mushrooms and baby bok choy to the pot for a minute or so before I serve the soup. Then I garnish the soup with mung bean sprouts and fresh herbs, including cilantro, Thai basil, chopped green onions and mint. I squeeze fresh lime juice into the soup, which I find is very important in balancing the flavor of the stock.
You can garnish with slices of Thai red chili or jalapeno to add heat. Sriracha and hoisin sauce are traditionally served along side the soup and not added to the soup. The idea is to remove a piece of meat from the soup and dip it in the sauce. Like many Americans I go ahead and add a squirt or two to my soup when I garnish it.
- 4 ounces flat rice noodles
- 6 cups of homemade Asian turkey stock
- 1 3-inch piece of ginger, cut into slices and mashed with the back of a knife
- 3 green onions, sliced
- 1 - 3 t brown sugar
- 2 - 4 T Asian fish sauce
- 2 baby bok choy, sliced
- 3 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 1 handful snow peas, trimmed
- 1½ cups shredded cooked turkey
- 1 - 2 limes cut in wedges
- 1 handful of mung bean sprouts
- 1 handful cilantro leaves
- 1 handful of Thai basil
- 1 handful mint
- 1 green onion, sliced
- Sriracha sauce (optional)
- Hoisin sauce (optional)
- Bring a medium pot full of water to a boil. Add the rice noodles and cook until tender, or use package instructions. Time will vary by width of noodle you use. Drain, rinse and set aside while you make the rest of the soup.
- In a large pot put the turkey stock, the ginger, green onions, some of the brown sugar and fish sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Taste and adjust fish sauce and sugar as needed.
- Add bok choy, mushrooms, snow peas and shredded turkey and cook briefly, a minute or two, until the vegetables are crisp tender.
- Put the noodles in the bottom of serving bowls. Ladle the soup into the bowls and serve with garnishes. Serve immediately while soup is very hot.