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Posted on Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 8:13 a.m.

Thanksgiving Recovery Potion: Turkey Quinoa Soup

By Peggy Lampman


Turkey Quinoa Soup

Peggy Lampman | Contributor


The new Holiday Cookbook answers all of your cooking needs. Strapped for time? Check out the well-tested Super-Simple section.

You may be reading this after having completed the annual Turkey Trot in Ann Arbor or Detroit. (For those unfamiliar with this particular 5 or 10K run, it’s held every Thanksgiving — in Detroit, prior to the Thanksgiving Day Parade.) Pat yourself on the back; you deserve another piece of pie.

More than likely, however, your race course has been from the kitchen to the dining room, and you’re reading this lying prone on the couch admonishing yourself for inhaling that second piece of pie. How on earth could that have been accomplished after you’d polished off a plate of food the size of the federal deficit?

Forget about those runners with their turkey feather boas and double-padded metallic Nikes; forgive yourself, I beg of you. Thanksgiving is the one blessed day we have carte blanche to stop the “Ten Steps to a Slimmer You” noise. (And while on the subject, I appreciate those of you who pile it on without without making that eyebrow raised inquiry as to how much butter and cream I used to make the mashed potatoes. A heart-felt thank-you; truly you are the guest I enjoy at my table.)

But, alas, there’s always tomorrow, and the following is a recipe that will shore up your sails and power your pistons, utilizing some of your holiday leftovers in the process.

The recipe was inspired by a “One-Pot Wonder” article in the December 2012, Runner’s World magazine that included a list of recipes suited to cure what ails ya. The particular recipe that appealed to me was a Chicken Quinoa Soup... “to recover faster”. After cooking  Thanksgiving dinner for my family of 18, I need a recovery potion.


I always toast my quinoa a minute before adding stock.

I’ve always been a big quinoa (pronounced, KEEN-wa) fan, and wonder why it doesn’t share the popularity of rice or potatoes on our menus. Whole grain quinoa contains more protein than any grain, and the protein supplied includes all nine essential amino acids. Moreover, it’s just as easy to prepare, and the “poppy” texture and nutty flavor are incomparable.

According to “Runner’s World”, “Quinoa provides magnesium, which may improve muscle strength in athletes.” They also write that the carbs in quinoa will “...refuel your depleted gas tank”. Certainly this budget-friendly seed will also be kinder to your beleaguered holiday wallet than a trip to the gas pump.

Runner’s World writes that the amino acids in chicken rebuild broken-down muscle tissue, but I substituted turkey for chicken, assuming that’s what you’d have on hand. Curiosity got the better of me, and I wondered if these fine-feathered friends shared the same nutritional bond; I checked out some sites, and was in for a surprise.

According to the website Nebraska Poultry & Egg, Turkey is richer in calcium, has less fat, is lower in calories and offers more protein the chicken. Who knew? writes that chickens and turkeys are both birds therefore have the same sequence of amino acids in their cytochrome-c protein. 

In the following recipe, your leftover turkey carcass would make the most flavorful stock. Simply remove all usable turkey meat from the carcass, and chop meat with any other leftover turkey you may have. (Refrigerate while you make the stock.) Place carcass, skin and juices into a large stock pot and completely cover with water to exceed carcass by 1-2 inches. Place any leftover vegetables you may have, such as yellow onion, carrots, and celery tops plus peppercorns, herbs and a bay leaf into the pot. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer, skimming off any foam accumulating on the surface of stock.

Simmer the stock until flavorful, about 4 hours, uncovered, occasionally skimming off the foam. Finally, strain stock through a very fine mesh strainer. (At this point you may refrigerate stock for later use. When proceeding with recipe, remove and dispose accumulated fat congealed at the top of the stock.) In the following recipe, the quinoa will serve the purpose of a sponge, absorbing the flavors of this savory brew.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Yield: 4 servings
Active Time (if you’ve leftover turkey): 20 minutes
Simmer Time: about 25 minutes


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 sliced carrots
2 sliced celery stalks
1 cup sliced mushrooms (I used some leftover shiitakes)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
6 cups turkey or chicken stock plus more as needed
3/4 cup whole grain quinoa*
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme sprigs

Leftover turkey, cubed

*I used the Trader Joe’s brand


1. In a heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven, heat oil to medium heat. Cook onion, carrots and celery 8 minutes with a pinch of kosher salt, occasionally stirring, or until fragrant and softened. Stir in mushrooms and continue cooking 2 minutes.
2. Stir in quinoa and toast with vegetables a minute. Add garlic and stock and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, occasionally stirring, 15-25 minutes or until quinoa is tender, adding additional stock if needed.
3. Stir in thyme and reheat leftover cubed turkey in soup. Season to taste with kosher salt, if needed, and freshly ground pepper.

Peggy Lampman is a real-time food writer and photographer posting daily feeds on her website and in the Food & Grocery section of You may also e-mail her at