Use Your Thanksgiving Leftovers to Have a Casual Soup Party

Tortilla Soup with Chorizo and Turkey Meatballs

Most people I know look at the day after hosting a holiday as the last day they want to host again. You’ve just finished cleaning up, you’re still in a food coma, why on earth would you want to start all over?

Sometimes, it can't be avoided. You have people in town and either staying with you or having expectations of being together. These people need feeding, and frankly, anytime you are feeding more than the people you usually live with it already becomes a hosting obligation. And it is a holiday weekend, so reservations are hard to get, and crowds are big, and do you really want some huge dining-out meal the day after a huge dining-in meal?

Sometimes you have spent the holiday with your spouse or partner’s family and your own family would like a shot at your company. Sometimes the family you were born into requires an immediate injection of some quality time of the family you have chosen for yourself, as an antidote. Or maybe you went somewhere else and you want to host something yourself.

I’m not just the person who spends one meal talking about what we are going to eat at our next meal, I am the person who spends the clean-up hours after one event debriefing and plotting the next event. It’s the holidays, more is more, abundance is the name of the game, why not two days in a row, hopefully everyone is still off of work.

Watch: How to Plan Thanksgiving Dinner for a Smaller Group

This is where the day-after soup party comes in. Soup is easy. Soup is fast. Soup can be done hands-off in your slow cooker or in a low oven or on simmer on your stovetop. Soup requires nothing more than bread on the side, maybe a salad if you are feeling ambitious. A good friend used to always host a day-after-Thanksgiving turkey tortilla soup party. The carcass and leftover turkey went into a pot with water and aromatics, lime and cilantro and some chiles, some white beans, and was served with traditional garnishes of fried tortilla strips, avocado, shredded cabbage, sliced radish and the like. It was an open house gathering, people brought some bits and pieces of leftovers from the day before, and we all just hung out with warm bowls.

Leftover ham and ham bone can go classic split pea or less classic black bean. leftover sweet potatoes or orange squashes can be combined with red lentils and curry. Leftover mashed potatoes can be turned into either chunky chowder or a smooth vichyssoise. Heck, even the sad remains of your crudité platter can get chopped up for a hearty minestrone or vegetable barley. Soup is an eyeball kind of thing anyway, dump your ingredients into you vessel and cover by one to two inches with stock or water. Simmer on low until hot, and season to taste with salt, pepper, and anything else your heart desires.

You can make one soup or many, depending on your crowd and ambition. Tell your guests to bring drinks and leftover desserts, and to wear their sweatpants or comfy lounging clothes.

It’s not even hard to prep. When you are shopping for your holiday meal, just load in some extra boxes or cans of stock, some onion, carrot and celery for aromatics, and maybe some extra fresh herbs. Start the soup whenever you wake up, and let it go nice and slow all day. Send someone to the bakery for a couple of loaves of crusty bread, and the makings of a salad if you like. And then open the doors and continue the celebration.

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