I should probably save this recipe for the day after Thanksgiving. You should make it when you have a turkey carcass in the fridge, a few potatoes left over, and are totally sick of eating turkey sandwiches. But I have no patience. And this chowder is so comforting, so hearty and chunky, that I could not wait an entire two months to share it with you.
When I found myself inexplicably creating a Thanksgiving feast a few days shy of October, I didn’t anticipate having an entire 7 lb turkey breast leftover. Despite my days of brining, careful oven roasting and diligent basting, the bird still turned out dry as a popcorn fart. You win some, you lose some. And then you buy a new thermometer and give dry turkey new life in delicious chowder.
My plans for mile-high club sandwiches being thwarted, I decided to make a soup version of the famed turkey and bacon sandwiches. I began by simmering stock from the turkey carcass (Elaine at Simply Recipes has a great tutorial on how to make stock), which perfumed the house all day long. For vegetables, the traditional lettuce and tomato of the club sandwich would just not do in a soup. So I opted for some yukon gold potatoes for thickness, a little garlic and a leek. You could substitute an onion, but I just love the subtle flavor that leeks add to soups.
The chowder comes together quickly but tastes like it’s been cooking all day long. Bacon adds a richness to the broth that coats each bite with a subtle smokiness. My turkey was made moist again by the broth, and the potatoes and leeks provided a nice balance to the meaty flavors.
I used tomato as a garnish, sliced up some warm, crusty bread, and crowned myself victorious over a seemingly inedible turkey.
Come a few days after Thanksgiving this chowder will grace my table again. This time using what is hopefully a remarkably edible, moist turkey. Fingers crossed. And new thermometers purchased.
If it’s not turkey time around your house, substitute chicken stock and chicken pieces. Serves 6-8 as a main course.
- 6 strips good quality thick-cut bacon
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 leek
- 2 tbsp flour
- 4 1/2 cups homemade turkey stock
- 1 1/2 lbs yukon gold potatoes (roughly 4-5 potatoes)
- 3 cups chopped cooked turkey
- 1 c half and half
- 1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
- several turns freshly ground black pepper
First, grab a large cutting board and a sharp knife to prep your ingredients with. Run your knife lengthwise down the center of the bacon, then dice widthwise into 1/2″ pieces. Mince the garlic. Slice the leek into 1/4″ rounds. Chop the potatoes into a 1/2″ dice.
Place a large pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat (you’ll be making the chowder in the same pot, so make sure it is large enough). Cook the bacon pieces, stirring occasionally, until it begins to crisp and turn brown, about 6-7 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate, leaving the bacon grease in the pot.
Add the garlic and leek to the pot and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is aromatic and leek begins to brown around the edges, about 1-2 minutes. Add the flour and stir to coat the leek/garlic mixture. Stir in the stock, whisking rapidly, until flour dissolves. Add the potatoes and bacon, bring to a simmer, and reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 10-12 minutes, until potatoes are fork-tender and broth has begun to thicken. Stir in the turkey, half and half, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5-6 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with a warm, crusty bread for dipping.