Making and Canning Turkey Soup

Since family didn’t make it for Thanksgiving this year, we had a fair bit of turkey left over. We made soup!

I’m one of those weirdos with meat issues, so I try to only purchase free-range, organic, “petted, loved, and humanely slaughtered” meat. Doing so helps me get over the revulsion I generally feel when I eat meat. This 14 pound turkey lived a pretty good life and ended up at the Friendly City Co-op in Harrisonburg. I didn’t pre-order, so I was stuck with the size available, and this was the perfect size for two people and leftovers.

hubby chopping veggies

hubby chopping veggies

After we brined (using Alton Brown’s brine recipe) the turkey and cooked it for our late Thanksgiving day lunch, we pulled off the meat. The sliced breast meat went into a container for Hubby’s sandwiches, and the remaining bits of white and dark meat were picked for turkey soup, for a special treat on Jack’s dinner (he’s our finicky eater), and for turkey salad.

I put the cleaned bones in a pan and roasted them for about 30 minutes. This added a bit of color to the bones. Then I put the carcass into a deep stockpot, covered the bones just barely with water and placed the pot on to simmer at the lowest heat. I skimmed off the scum that rose to the top and avoided the temptation to season the stock. Flavors increase in storage, and because the turkey was brined, I wanted to avoid any chance of over salting. I’ll add salt, pepper, and any additional spices when we cook up the soup. I did add a bay leaf after the scum and fat was skimmed.

After 5 hours, I pulled the bones out of the stock. I added a layer of ice to the kitchen sink and moved the pot of stock to the ice. I then filled the rest of the sink with ice to rapidly cool the stock. I stirred the stock a few minutes to help move the heat out from the center of the stock, and then I left the stock to sit in the sink of ice. Within 30 minutes, all of the ice was melted, and the stock was not only cooled but actually cold.

turkey stock

turkey stock

Using half of a package of cheesecloth, I strained the stock into a large storage container, ending up with 7 quarts of light gold goodness. I stored the stock in the fridge overnight. This caused the remaining fat in the stock to solidify at the top of the container.

The following morning, I strained the stock through the remaining cheesecloth. Because the fat was solid, it easily clung to the cloth, leaving me with almost perfectly clear stock. I put the stock back on the stove to boil, and hubby and I began to chop the veggies.

I generally followed the guidelines of the chicken soup recipe on the “Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving” (the “yellow book”). I used 4 cups of chopped turkey, 4 cups of chopped potatoes, 3 cups of chopped carrots, 2.5 cups of chopped celery, and 2 cups of chopped onion. I coldpacked the ingredients into 6 hot quart jars, and I topped off each jar with the boiling turkey stock.

*NOTE – Cold packing is not a recommended form of canning soup, but it’s one with which I am comfortable. Please visit theĀ NCHFP for tested directions for canning soup.*

I had room for another quart in the pressure canner, so I also filled one jar of stock. The remaining quart of stock is in the freezer in freezer-safe jars.

turkey soup ingredients

turkey soup ingredients

After 90 minutes of pressure canning, I have 6 quarts of golden turkey soup! To serve, I’ll put the soup on the stove and add in a couple of ounces of pasta, along with spices. Because the soup is unseasoned, I can make it hot and spicy with a curry flavor, or I can add a pint of canned chopped tomatoes, rosemary, basil, and oregano for an Italian flair. I’ll also probably add in any other veggies we need to use up.

I’m thankful that my mother taught me how to cook as a child. I also thankful that farmers have started raising poulty to be poultry. I refuse to buy chickens that live their lives in tight little cages. This means I don’t often get to take part in the $1.99/lb chicken specials, but if I continue to support the right farmers, they’ll continue to provide quality meat. In addition to Friendly City Co-Op, I’ve purchased poultry from J&L Green Farm, Polyface Farm, and The Farmhouse. They have all made good stock!

What’s the secret ingredient that makes your stock taste wonderful?

Oh, if you want a great source for a tested-safe recipe, please visit this link: The site is my go-to resource.

*** This site is comprised solely of the opinions of its author, Stacey Morgan Smith. She works to promote gardening and tourism in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, from Roanoke to the Potomac River.***

23 comments to Making and Canning Turkey Soup

  • Kay

    I love seasoning my stock with fresh bay leaf! Adds that special something….
    Thanks for sharing your recipe and process.

  • Michelle Drayton-Fisher

    Thank you so much for the inspiration. I will be trying your process this Thanksgiving.

  • Mary Quinn

    Thank you for such an easy to follow recipe. I have the carcass on the oven for its 30 minutes now.

  • Mary Quinn

    In the oven, sorry!

  • Athanasia

    I make one turkey a year and I have now for all married life…29 years. Only for Thanksgiving. In recent years I have been buying at the farmers market, but missed out this year. They go fast.
    We ended up with a Butterball as I won a coupon on a blog. My middle daughter suggested I brine. I also used the Alton Brown recipe. It was a small turkey, about 11 pounds but plenty for our group of 9. No one is a big meat eater and my 2 daughters are vegetarian. So we cook mostly vegetarian. I make soup the way my mother did, though I strain and sieve out bits better than she did. I can’t stand little bits of bone or cartilage showing up anywhere. I have never tried roasting the bones. I add bay leaves, celery tops, an onion. To the soup I add potatoes, carrots, onions, celery and rice or noodles. This year I added wild rice instead. I added it way before adding the vegetables so it would be nicely puffed. So I don’t know if my stock tastes wonderful, but what is important to me is that I do it and can just walk right past the soup cans in the grocery store.

  • lisa feyt

    I’m making the simple version of this today…I got a free turkey last year for spending over $200 at the grocery store…I roasted it yesterday…today I’ll be canning soup but only with turkey and stock…I’ve decided I can add whatever vegetables I want when I’m ready to eat…I can also make noodles or rice or potatoes, thicken the broth and pour the turkey over top..

    I appreciate you showing us your wonderful recipe

    Thank you


  • kathy

    how did you like the turkey brined? was thinking of trying it this year. is it worth it?

  • kathy

    p.s. whats coldpack? new to canning

  • Lori

    this sounds great – I am going to try to make my own soup – by following your directions here. I’m guessing that when you put the ‘cleaned bones’ in the stockpot – it meant that you pulled off the meat – correct? Thanks so much

  • Raven

    I’m going to do this Friday, I’m super excited about it. But….I’ve never canned before :-( I don’t have a pressure canner but I do have the big canning pans (sorry no clue what there called). How long would I boil the quart jars without a pressure canner? Do I leave 1″ of space at the top of the jar or more? Thanks for your help in advance.

  • Lori

    I am getting ready to make the soup now – you roasted the bones for 30 minutes prior to simmering in the stockpot – does roasting enhance the flavor? Can you not roast them and put them directly into the stockpot instead?

  • Pam McKee

    My son and I were talking turkey soup today and I came across this site! Question…How long is the shelf life for your canned soup? Do you keep it in the fridge? Thanks

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