How reading Random Passage motivated me to make turkey soup

I read the book Random Passage by Bernice Morgan a while ago now. It was given to me by one of my favourite people, who just so happens to have a complicated (love/hate?) relationship with his homeland of Newfoundland. This novel was his favourite book about his famed province and he gifted it to me for my library.

For those of you who haven’t read it, Random Passage is about a family who flees England to start a new life in a faraway country – the Colony of Newfoundland. They arrive in in this rural coastal area between 1850-1900 (I’m guessing because I can’t find any actually year associated with the novel!). As the publisher notes in several online sources, “the Andrews family books passage to a fresh start in a distant country, only to discover a barren, inhospitable land at the end of their crossing.” Random Passage tells the story of not only the Andrews family, but a teenage woman coming of age and a small community learning, working and living together in a very remote part of the world.

The main theme of Random Passage is survival. Together the characters must survive many things: growing up, loneliness, starvation and the elements.

I loved this book. So much so, that now that I’m writing about it, I think I should probably read it again. But I digress…

After reading this book, I felt compelled to be better equipped to ensure I knew how to feed my family. Now…let’s be real, I don’t live in rural pre-electricity Newfoundland. I’m likely never going to have to worry about where to find my next meal. But after reading this book, I was moved to be able to cook a turkey and then use every last piece of said turkey for meals, such as stew and soup. I remember clearly thinking to myself after I finished this novel that I needed to know how to boil turkey bones so that I would not waste any food.

This brings me to one of my favourite things to do post-Thanksgiving – make soup out of the leftover turkey!

It really is much easier than I had first imagined lo these many years ago.

First off – you clean the carcass of the turkey of any leftover meat. If you have lots of meat left, then you don’t need to skin it dry. Leaving some around the bone will add to flavour. But if you have scarce meat left, you want to ensure you have enough for adding to the broth for eating.

I will admit I never have the energy to want to make my soup right after the meal that I have made said turkey for. I typically separate meat from bone, and then freeze both the carcass and meat (separately) until I’m ready to cook.

When that time comes, usually about a month later, I take the carcass and I boil it in a large full pot of water. The last time I did this, I boiled it for ~three hours. After bringing to a boil, I keep the lid of the pot on halfway so that the water doesn’t all evaporate.

Next step is to strain the bones, foam and any other things that may be floating around (like remnants of stuffing).

The leftover water will be the base of your soup (or stew).

Next – add whatever veggies you’d like. Most recently I added carrots, parsnips, leeks, onions, potatoes and of course turkey meat.

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I actually sautéed the leeks in butter and garlic before adding the broth and veggies.

Finally – spices like salt, pepper, garlic, rosemary, parsley – depending on my mood and what I have in my kitchen.

I then cook this for another hour or so until the vegetables are soft.

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And there you go – a big pot of soup for family and friends!

Honestly, there is nothing more satisfying to me than knowing I have fed my family with a hearty, home cooked meal. It also brings me comfort in knowing that the turkey who gave his life for our family wasn’t wasted and eaten in vain. I credit Bernice Morgan’s beautifully honest writing about life in remote winter communities before grocery stores and automobiles brought us everything we needed right to our fingertips.

 

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