Image Map

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Turkey and Hominy Soup

This recipe is legend among our family and family friends. Every fall and winter, my mother makes several giant batches to dole out with crusty bread on cold nights. My mother refers to it simply as "Turkey Soup," but in reality it is so stuffed with ingredients it's hardly a soup anymore. The way my mother cooks is to generally clear out her fridge, chucking things in until she thinks it "smells right" so this isn't exactly a recipe that was easy to write down, but it is certainly one that it is tailor-made for alterations.

Don't like hominy? Well I think you're nuts, but feel free to replace them with some kidney beans, or whatever strikes your fancy (or you have in your cupboard).

I happen to love hominy in a big way, it's always been my favorite part of this soup. For those of you not familiar with hominy, it is corn that has been treated with lye making it puffy and delicious in a process called nixtamalization. It is the precursor to masa, the ground corn dough that makes up tortillas, tamales, and papusas. The name "hominy" comes from the Powhatan tribe of American Indians, and many traditional American Indian diets included hominy.

Look how big that can is! IPhone for size comparison.
This recipe is very typical of my mother's cooking, almost spartan in its preparation. No added salt, no added fats, no giant mess of spices. While the stock is made in a French manner, with the classic mirepoux of celery, onion, and carrots, one could see a lot of Japanese American influences even in her Western-style cooking. The mottainai "waste-nothing" attitude behind using the leftover turkey bones to make her own stock and clearing out the cupboards and fridge for a soup that is always changing depending not only on the season but the very day she cooks it, for example.

My mother always makes this with homemade turkey stock, extracted from the carcass after a long simmer, but I certainly won't judge you if you decide to pick up turkey or chicken stock from the store or even precooked meat to save yourself the trouble of roasting a turkey.

My mother would probably consider this high treason, but I think most people would agree that roasting an entire turkey, simmering the stock for a billion hours, and then actually making the soup is more time than most people are willing to commit to. She's obviously nuts.

As a bonus, the family dog will haunt your steps because everything smells simply right with the world when this is simmering. Every time I stepped away from the stove, the fridge, or the sink, my mom's dog was staring at me, literally dogging my heels. Featured here is T'Asia, daughter of my resident taste-tester Tiara. Unlike my dog, she is not usually a beggar, but she brought out her A-game when she smelled the turkey stock simmering.

Turkey and Hominy Soup

Turkey Stock:
One roasted turkey approximately 20lbs
12 cups of water (approximate)
1 bunch of celery, broken into 2-3" long pieces
5 carrots, broken into 2-3" long pieces
1 large onion, cut into quarters.

Remove all the meat from the turkey carcass and reserve. Half of the meat can be used for whatever else strikes your fancy. Place the bones (the body of the bird broken into manageble pieces), skin, and any cartilage/connective pieces into a large stockpot. Then, just plop in the veggies and pour water over to cover. Heat until simmering on medium for about 45 minutes, then turn the heat down to maintain a bare simmer. Simmer for at least 4 hours, my mother prefers 8-12, then discard the solids. We aren't going for a totally clear stock, so don't worry about breaking out the cheesecloth for a perfectly clear stock. No need to refrigerate and skim fat either, because when you freeze the soup, any fat that floats to the top will act as a nice insulator against freezer damage to the top of the soup. This fat can be skimmed at the time of defrost, if desired, but there is rarely much to begin with.

If you'd rather skip this roasting and simmering business, buy around 5 lbs of cooked meat and around 12 cups of stock (turkey preferred but chicken will also do). My mother would definitely scowl at this sentence, but no judgement from me!

Half of the reserved turkey meat, chopped or shredded into bite sized pieces.
Turkey Stock
One 6lbs-12oz can of golden hominy, or 3-4 of the more common lbs-13oz cans
1 lbs each of carrots, celery, and onions*
2-3 leeks, carefully washed of all grit
12oz of sausages (I like chicken and apple, or kielbasa, something mild)

*Neat time saving tip: Trader Joe's has mirepoux containers with precut onions/carrots/celery, so you don't have to dice carrots, celery, and onions. Use three (roughly 14 ounce) containers and save yourself some prep. You can also use three of them to make the stock as well, but since I cut the pieces so roughly for the stock it's not that big a deal. I absolutely hate cutting onions, I have written about bouncing around the kitchen literally howling in pain and crying like a baby, so I really love not having to chop up onions. If you're not a wuss like me and don't mind the time spent chopping, ignore this.

Chop up the carrots and onions into large dice (roughly the same size as the hominy), and cut the celery and leeks into 1/4" pieces. Slice the sausage into 1/4" rounds. Heat the stock until simmering after adding the ingredients, then carefully dole the soup into Tupperware after it has cooled a bit. My mother usually freezes this, and then defrosts and heats as necessary, so we don't simmer the ingredients for very long because we don't want soggy veggies when reheated. If you plan to serve a portion of this right away, heat until warm and the carrots have lost just a bit of their crunch. Serve with salt and pepper and crusty hot bread.

Warning: This makes a generous metric shit-ton of soup. The nice thing is that it is made for freezing, and according to, frozen soup keeps indefinitely, but for quality purposes I recommend consuming it within 6-8 months. Fresh veggies can also be added to perk up the frozen soup, as well as tweak it with whatever's left in your crisper that needs to be used.

See Also:
Bacon Corn Chowder
Braunschweiger Sandwich


  1. Comforting and delicious! I love the soup that's in the bread bowl. :)

  2. I know what you mean, a bread bowl turns any soup, especially one as light as this, into a hearty meal. In fact, give me anything in a bread bowl- chili, soup, stew, chowder- and I'm content.

  3. Hello there.I love your soup. Next time let the onions(peeled) stand a while in water and then cut them with a sharp knife. Onions standing in water will eliminate the gas in the onions and make it easier to cut. Please give it an try.

    1. I will have to try this! Ive tried some tricks (having running water nearby, rinsing the onions) but I will have to try this. I normally just put on some swimming goggles!