A creamy, humble turkey and rice soup is elevated by swapping out smoked turkey and wild rice as prime ingredients.
The American domestic turkey has been eaten in North America for centuries (millennia in Central America), but in modern times it is generally associated with only three things: Thanksgiving, state fairs and processed lunch meat for sandwiches. Its flesh has a lower fat content than does commercial chicken, which often leaves its reputation in poor regard for anything beyond holiday meals or an oversized drumstick at outdoor festivals.
However, the bird takes to smoking methods very well, leaving the dark meat of the legs with a rich rust color. Smoked drumsticks can be often be found in supermarket deli sections, sold individually at much cheaper prices than fresh chicken; a single drumstick can yield around two pounds of meat. Of course, smoking your own meat is always an option, and obtaining the legs from local barbecue restaurants adds even more flavor.
The key to this soup is passing on chicken stock—even homemade—and making a luscious turkey stock using the drumstick itself. Along with a touch of dry white wine, this treatment captures some of the smoke flavor in the meat while also breaking down the flesh even further, with the long braise drying it out and leaving it with a texture resembling lean brisket. (Note that this recipe makes twice as much stock as needed for the soup itself.)
In similar fashion, standard long-grain white rice (the domesticated Oryza sativa) is replaced with wild rice, a commercial blend of grains from four grasses found native in North American and Asia. Wild rice has a higher starch content with a tougher outer sheath, and so takes a bit longer to cook than white rice. However, a pinch of added baking soda can help with cooking times.
Serve this soup with a dollop of sour cream or crème fraîche, if you prefer, and fresh cornbread muffins.
Smoked Turkey and Wild Rice Soup
1 lb smoked turkey
½ white onion
½ c wild rice
4 c turkey stock
½ c evaporated milk
¼ t thyme
¼ t baking soda
2 T flour
1 T parsley
For the broth:
1 smoked turkey leg
1 stalk celery
½ white onion
1 white wine
1 Make the broth: Add the ingredients to 8 c water and simmer over very low heat for 2-4 hrs. Strain off solids, and pick meat off the leg.
2 Add the rice to the oil over medium heat and sauté until beginning to toast, about 5 min.
3 Dice the carrot and onion, and sauté with the rice for 2-3 min. Add the thyme, baking soda, flour and turkey, and season to taste.
4 Add the stock and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hr.
5 Finish by stirring in the milk and parsley, and adjust seasoning.