Turkey Soup with Baby Bok Choy and Rice Stick Noodles

What a crazy few weeks it’s been–mostly due to Jody’s schedule around the opening of TRADE (doing well, thank you very much).  Five pounds of additional padding has mysteriously appeared around my waistline, the price for ignoring my bicycle and spending too much time sitting at the TRADE bar nursing a Delirium Tremens in hopes of a glimpse of my wife.  I paid for my sins on Sunday.  A couple of friends and I rode a 55 mile loop from Lexington to Harvard, and I have to say I felt a far far cry from that cycling cyborg (cycling knockwurst?  cycling mac ‘n cheese?) that I was back in August.  Thank God for something light this week.  Turkey soup with baby bok choi and rice stick noodles.

Nobody in their right mind eats Thanksgiving dinner several days in a row.  It’s traditional in the food-writing world to offer options for leftover turkey.  My own preferences run to finding a culinary sanctuary as far from traditional Yankee themes as possible.  It doesn’t have to be Mongolian, just different enough to hit the reset button on my palate (sounds ominously close to a tongue piercing, doesn’t it?).  Hence the ginger and bok choy and fish sauce is this week’s recipe.  Nothing too exotic, but definitely not Norman Rockwell circa 1965 either.  Once I’m taken out of the Thanksgiving dinner mode I feel free the rest of the weekend to indulge in those things that I do want to repeat in short order–like homemade pumpkin and apple pie.

At first glance the ingredients list may seem dauntingly long.  It’s not…

Okay, yes it is.  Blame my wife.  I tried, believe me, I tried.  The one thing I’ll say in her defense is it’s eeeeaaasy longYou will spend more time in the produce section hunting down lemongrass than you will prepping for this recipe.   The photographs make it seem as though the mis-en-place was done by a methamphetamine fueled Ronco super chopper.  The reality is more mundane–the prep is of the “slice this, grate that” variety.  Nothing tricky or complicated.   There’s a little effort in the prep, but less in the in the actual cooking.  Basically you begin by sauteing some onions and then just keep adding ingredients, a few at a time, until you’re done, when you’re left with a pot of aromatic turkey ambrosia.

If you really feel burdened, invite the freeloaders sponging off your hospitality your weekend guests into the kitchen.  Tell them you’re opening a bottle of wine.  After pouring a round, suggest that as long as everyone’s standing there they might as well pick the leaves off a few sprigs of cilantro or basil.

Leftover turkey posts conventionally appear ahead of Thanksgiving, which means that I’m eating turkey soup now, while you still have the entire holiday hurdle of the meal to get past before you can reward yourself with a bowl of light soup.  And another slice of pumpkin pie.  Happy Thanksgiving.


Turkey Soup with Baby Bok Choy and Rice Stick Noodles

Makes 4 servings


  • 2 stalks lemon grass, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped (about 1½ tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped ginger
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced chili peppers, such as Serrano, jalapeno, or bird
  • 8 heads baby bok choy, cut in half
  • 1 cup julienned carrot
  • 2 cups thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • ¼ cup fish sauce
  • 2 quarts turkey broth
  • 2 cups shredded cooked turkey meat
  • Juice of 1 lime.
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves
  • 2 scallions, end trimmed, green and white part sliced as thin as possible on the diagonal
  • 6 ounces rice noodles, soaked in warm water 10 minutes.


  • Thai chili paste
  • Chopped peanuts
  • Bean sprouts
  • Small bunch each of mint, cilantro and basil
  • 1 lime cut into quarters


  1. Combine the lemongrass, garlic and ginger in the food processor. Pulse until finely chopped.
  2. Heat the oil in a large soup pot or deep-sided pan over medium-high.  Add the sliced white onions and cook until golden, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, add the lemongrass-ginger mixture and cook 4 minutes.  Add the sugar and pepper and toss well.
  3. Add the carrots, shiitakes and bok choy and toss with the fish sauce.  Add the turkey broth, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer 5 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  5. Add the turkey meat to the soup and simmer an additional 5 minutes. Add the lime juice, scallions and cilantro leaves.
  6. Add the noodles to the boiling water and cook 1 minutes. Drain.
  7. Make a mound of noodles in the center of 4 warm bowls. Ladle the soup over the noodles.
  8. Serve with small bowls of garnishes.

Jody notes:

While biking in Cambodia with my sisters last winter, we were given an impromptu cooking class by a woman cooking noodles at a roadside restaurant.  Easy, simple, fabulous ingredients–and delicious.  Pristine white rice noodles sitting on a basket, were dunked into a pot of simmering broth perfumed with ginger and lemon grass and then dropped into bowls.  She topped each serving with broth and vegetables.  We helped ourselves from a table of garnishes–jars of fresh herbs and bottles of hot sauce.  

We slurped our way to the bottom with lightening speed.

The Friday after Thanksgiving is a time for recovery, a time for something light.  When you still have turkey to plow through and you can’t bear another turkey sandwich, make this soup.  It is a bit of work so gather some troops, arm them with knives and cutting boards and set them to slicing and dicing.  Once the veggies are chopped, the soup is a snap to make.

This is a very unfussy recipe, but take care to finely chop the lemongrass.  You want the pieces to be small enough so people aren’t chewing for days.

To make the broth, simply throw a roasted turkey carcass into a pot.  Add 2 or 3  chopped carrots, and the same amount of celery and onion.  Add enough cold water to cover everything, then throw in a little wine and a couple of bay leaves.   Bring the pot to a boil.  Let it simmer for a couple hours, then refrigerate it for the night.  The next morning you can skim the fat off the surface.  Strain and there you go – high-quality turkey stock.  

23 thoughts

    • Bought a nice big one for 100 pesos (about $2.30), had the housegirls clean it and cut it up, then threw it in the freezer. Haven’t cooked it yet. I’m thinking I’d like to divide it up and try some with the slow-cooked method – your beans, and some quick-cooked – maybe fried. Because of your advice about how perishable it is, I took a little ice chest with ice in it to the market when I shopped for it. And I notice the vendor had it iced down, too. Thanks for asking!

  1. I can’t wait to make this soup with the leftovers next weekend. I like that I can use the leftover turkey carcass to make the broth too. I’m not a big “leftovers” fan so this is perfect for me–something completely different from something I already made. Thanks!

  2. How considerate of you to make the turkey, the stock and the soup a week early so the rest of us can add the ingredients to our T-day shopping list. Turkey sandwiches only go so far, and I think I want to live on this soup for a few days running–not such a bad penance for dietary indiscretions committed on Thursday!

      • Hey Ken–Happy Thanksgiving to you, too! I hope you all have a relaxing day (and put those free-loaders to work.) You always make me laugh, and Friday mornings are so much better now that you’re blogging/and so perfectly on time, too, dammit.

        p.s bought everything today to make this soup on Saturday. Love to Jody and everyone.

  3. Pingback: What I’ve Been Reading plus Odds and End | Bookdwarf

  4. In my opinion, hot turkey sandwiches are the perfect food, so I tend not to get very creative with Thanksgiving leftovers. If I did though, this dish seems a sensible route to take, a light but deeply flavorful soup. Santa, if you’re listening, I’d love a cool set of soup bowls like what Jodi and Ken have, they are lovely.

  5. You’re making me jealous–we have NO turkey leftovers this year. But we did have soup! Go to the former Super 88 in Brighton for the bowls. Cheap! Ahem, I mean “modestly priced.” Ken

  6. Seeing that it’s January 6, 2012, we had Thanksgiving dinner in Chicago and then promptly moved to California on December 19, I have no leftover turkey! However, I DO have some ground turkey, so I am going to give it a shot…it won’t be as good, but I do have all of the other necessary ingredients, so I will just start my soup by livening it up with some spices (garlic, sea salt, black pepper, lime) and see how we do.

    Thanks for this great recipe, can’t wait to eat dinner tonight and it’s only 9:30 am! I’ll let you know how it goes!

  7. Pingback: Turkey Risotto with Saffron and Preserved Lemon « The Garum Factory

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