I roasted a duck for Christmas dinner this year, which was yummy. But afterwards, I had a duck carcass with leftover meat still on it. It was not easy to pick off, either, and I didn’t want to waste the meat that was still on the bones. What to do?
The answer: duck minestrone! In fact, any type of poultry can be used in minestrone, and goose meat or turkey meat would be just as at home. It’s the perfect comfort food to create from your leftover roast bird.
But more to the point, the bones aren’t wasted either: they are boiled up for a most delicious broth, forming the base of your soup.
1. To prepare for making the broth: you probably won’t feel like making the broth right after clearing away your dinner, so put the bones/carcass from the bird into a freezer bag and place straight in the freezer. That will keep them safe and good for when you want to make the broth.
2. To make the broth, I do this just like I do chicken broth. I place all the bones (don’t worry if there’s still a bit of roast meat stuck to them – the goodness ends up in the broth), along with a onion cut in half, a couple of sticks of celery, a carrot, a bay leaf and some black peppercorns, and a good splash of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar (helps to release the nutrients from the bones), into a large stockpot or pressure cooker. Add water to cover. Don’t add salt; the broth will reduce and get too salty, plus salt also reduces the amounts of nutrients which are released from the bones.
If making in a stockpot, bring everything to the boil. Once boiled, reduce to a simmer and leave to simmer for 4-12 hours. I actually use a pressure cooker (see the pressure cooker I use at this post) and I bring it up to 15psi, then maintain that pressure for 20-30mins, before using a natural release to let the pressure down again. But you get the same effect from simmering the broth for hours on the back of the stove – it doens’t need much attention from you, except maybe a splash of extra water now and then. You could also use a slow cooker to make the broth overnight if you prefer.
Once you’re happy with the strength and flavour of the broth, strain it through a colander or sieve, and put aside any excess broth that you don’t want to use for the soup. I let it cool in a stainless steel pot and then pour it into containers or freezer bags to freeze. Keep out as much as you’ll need to make your pot of soup; for broth made from the bones of one roast bird, and the leftover meat of that roast, I would normally use all of the broth that I’d made. However it depends on how strong the broth is and how strongly brothy you like your soup to taste! It’s not an exact science and every pot of soup will be a little different 🙂
3. Shred the leftover duck meat and put aside in the fridge until the broth is done.
4. Dice some carrots, some onion, some celery, and some garlic and gently sauté them in some butter until the onions no longer smell “raw”.
5. Put the broth and the sautéed vegetables into a big soup pot, and bring up to a gentle simmer on the stove.
6. Open a can of tomatoes and a can of cannelloni beans, or get some soaked and cooked beans out of the freezer if that’s what you normally do. Add the tomatoes to the soup pot; drain the beans and put them to one side.
7. If you like pasta in your minestrone, then add 1-2 cups of pasta shapes now. I often add elbows or macaroni, because you don’t have to fight to get them on your spoon!
8. Once the pasta is almost done, add the beans.
9. Just before serving, stir the shredded duck meat so that it warms through. You don’t want this to simmer or boil because it will make it a bit tasteless and tough.
10. Serve in nice open soup bowls with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, and some parmesan to sprinkle, if you like.