Still have leftover turkey? We do. Leftovers are of course the best part of the feast. It lives on. For days and days and days. But eventually, turkey-gravy-cranberry-and-stuffing sandwiches get old.

Since I stepped foot in Mamma’s house before the eating began, I’d been eying a recipe in the New York Times for Turkey Soup with Cilantro and Lime. Luckily, she had been too. On Sunday evening, we scoured the supermarket and garden for cilantro, chives, limes, avocado and tortillas. In fact, it was the last packet of tortillas, which means the rest of southern Fairfield County had the same idea.

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Turkey Soup with Flair

Follow this New York Times recipe to a T, but don't get too bogged down in quantities of onions to carrots to celery. You can also substitute whole spices for ground, but the traditional instructions make the process more enjoyable (not to mention, the flavor more robust).

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 cinnamon stick, 2 inches long
  • dash of cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
  • 8 cups unsalted turkey or chicken stock
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • 4 corn tortillas, cut in 1/2-inch strips
  • 4 to 6 cups cooked turkey meat, shredded
  • 1 or 2 firm-ripe avocados
  • 6 scallions, chopped
  • 2 jalapeños, thinly sliced
  • 1 small bunch cilantro, leaves and tender stems, roughly chopped
  • Lime wedges, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Heat vegetable oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and carrot and let soften, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.
  2. Toast the cumin, coriander and peppercorns in a small dry skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 1 minute, then grind in a spice mill or mortar. Add the ground spices to the pot, along with the garlic, cinnamon, a pinch of cayenne and salt.
  3. Add the broth and bring to a boil, then reduce to a brisk simmer. Cook for 15 minutes, then taste for salt and adjust. Keep hot, covered, over very low heat.
  4. Pour vegetable oil to a depth of 1/2 inch into a wide skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot and looks wavy, add the tortilla strips and fry until barely colored, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove with tongs and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle lightly with salt. (The oil may be strained and saved for future frying.)
  5. In a medium saucepan, heat the shredded turkey meat with a little of the hot soup. Divide the meat among 4 to 6 soup bowls and add a few slices of avocado to each. Ladle about 1 cup soup into each bowl, then garnish with tortilla strips, scallions, jalapeño slices, chopped cilantro and a generous squeeze of lime juice.
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