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Turkey Ramen Soup

I say it every Thanksgiving: make stock with your turkey carcass!
*My friends roll their eyes when I ramble on about the glory of after-Thanksgiving turkey soup. 

I always make a traditional turkey noodle soup, but a turkey carcass makes a whole lot of stock. This year’s soup is inspired by the ramen-centered first issue of Lucky Peach.Where are the best places to eat ramen? (in Japan, of course.)  What are the regional variations? How do you make Momofuku style ramen broth? (David Chang, chef-owner of Momofuku, created Lucky Peach.) Harold McGee explains the science behind alkaline noodles. John T Edge visits New Orleans for Seventh Ward Ramen. David Chang shares Momofuku’s simple recipe for slow roast pork shoulder and pork belly.
*My favorite article was Ruth Reichl’s taste testing of packaged ramen noodles. She confesses to serving tons of them when her teenage son and horde of friends descended on the kitchen. 

In spite of Harold McGee’s article on how to make perfect alkaline noodles, I’m going with the old standby – packaged ramen noodles from the grocery store.
* I’m looking for a weeknight dinner for my own ravening horde here. Cut me some slack. Besides, Ruth called Nong Shim noodles “Decent.” A ringing endorsement of packaged ramen if I’ve ever heard one…

I wanted a hearty, fall style ramen; the vegetables and eggs came from my winter farmers’ market. The kids were dubious about hard boiled eggs in soup…until they tried them. Two out of three decided it was a great idea, and happily slurped down bowls full of noodles and eggs.
*The third kid? He daintily picked the egg off the top of the soup. And he wasn’t happy about it.

If you have turkey stock on hand, frozen in quart containers in your freezer, the rest of the recipe comes together in a half an hour. Make stock after Thanksgiving this year, and you’ll be ready for soup whenever the mood strikes you.
*When it runs out, and you go back to the store-bought stuff, you’ll know why I make a batch of chicken stock every few weeks.

Recipe: Turkey Ramen Soup

Inspired By: Lucky Peach magazine, Issue #1 – Ramen

Cook time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 quarts turkey stock (or chicken stock, preferably homemade)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 2 tablespoons sake
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 ounces mushrooms, sliced (preferably shitake, but any mushroom will do)
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced thin
  • 1/4 head of Napa cabbage or green cabbage, sliced into bite sized pieces
  • 1 bunch scallions, white part cut into 2 inch lengths, green part sliced thin
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 packages ramen noodles, roughly 8 ounces (throw away the evil spice packet)
  • 4 cups shredded cooked turkey
  • 2 cups spinach

Directions:
1. Simmer the broth: Bring turkey stock, soy sauce, mirin, sake, and garlic to a boil in a In a large, wide pot (4 quart saute pan or dutch oven) over medium-high heat.

2. Cook the soup: Decrease heat to medium and add the mushrooms, carrots, cabbage, scallion whites and the eggs. Simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Add the noodles and turkey and simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon, turn off the heat, add the spinach, and cover the pot.

3. Peel the eggs: While the spinach cooks in the residual heat, peel the eggs under cold running water, then slice each egg in half.

4. Serve the soup: Use tongs and a ladle to divide the soup into 6 large bowls. Add a half an egg to each bowl, garnish with scallion greens, and serve.

Variations:
*Mirin substitution: Mirin adds a sweet and vinegar flavor to the soup. Substitute sweet vermouth, or rice wine vinegar plus 1 teaspoon sugar.

*Sake substitution: Sake adds a bright acid to the soup – substitute dry vermouth, white wine, or lemon or lime juice.

*Vegetables: empty out the vegetable tray. I used common fall vegetables from a November farmers market. Hard vegetables (cabbage, root vegetables) should be sliced thin and added right away. Regular vegetables (beans, peas, corn) should be added with the noodles and turkey. Tender greens (spinach, arugula) go in right at the end and cook in the residual heat of the pot. Toppings (scallion greens, bean sprouts) should be sprinkled on at the table.

*Soft cook the eggs: Simmer the eggs for six minutes, immediately plunge into cold water to stop the cooking. Cut in half with fishing line or unflavored dental floss, and immediately put in the bowl of soup before the yolk runs everywhere.

*Other protien: Replace the turkey with chicken, pork (particularly pork shoulder), or tofu cubes.

Notes:
* If you are planning ahead for this recipe, do NOT skim the fat from your Turkey stock. Good ramen broth has a layer of chicken fat floating on top.

* Ramen is traditionally built when serving. The broth, noodles, and other ingredients are cooked separately, and combined in the bowl. I went with a Japanese family style hot-pot approach. I put everything in a big, shallow pot and cooked it together. I kept the ingredients separated into their own zones in the pot, making it easier to build a bowl of soup.

* The drumsticks and wing drumettes from a twelve pound turkey yield just under 4 cups of shredded meat. How do I know this? The longest part of the prep was shredding turkey. I was wrestling legs and wings, which are mostly skin and tendons. If you have turkey breast, or even thighs, they are much easier to work with. Of course, I used them to make turkey salad the day before…because they were much easier to work with.

What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.

Related Posts:
Pressure Cooker Turkey Stock
Turkey Stock
Turkey Noodle Soup
Turkey Soup with Chickpeas and Vegetables
Southwestern Turkey and Black Bean Soup

Inspired By:
Lucky Peach magazine, Issue #1 – Ramen

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7 Comments

  1. guitarzantx says

    This looks great! I am with you on homemade stock, and have adopted your pressure cooker method of preparation. It saves time and produces much richer stock. We buy a chicken each week at one of our local farmer’s markets here in Austin. We have a process that my wife calls “milking the chicken”. (I might have to start a blog by that name.) After a roasted chicken dinner, we remove all of the remaining meat from the bone, freeze whatever we aren’t going to eat the following day, and freeze the carcass. The meat gets used for soup, enchiladas, chicken salad, etc. Every few of weeks, I gather up the carcasses and make my stock, generally using part of it for soup that evening. This recipe looks like a great use for both the meat and the stock, as well as the incredible eggs we get from our local farmer. Thanks for posting another very practical and fun weeknight meal!

  2. A word from this poster’s wife – you have to make soup for supper the night you make the stock, because the stock smells so good on the stove!

  3. I love it. Dueling posts!

    More often than not, I make soup the day after I make stock. I start the stock while we clean up the kitchen after a chicken dinner, refrigerate it overnight (on the back porch in this kind of weather), then use it or freeze it the next day.

  4. Dave Whittaker says

    I just made this tonight with stock from my Plumcreek Farm turkeys. AMAZING. Thanks for the inspiration.

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