Save All Your Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey for This Instant Pot Noodle Soup

Andrea Nguyen's Chinese-Vietnamese-American soup is pure comfort in a bowl.

Thanksgiving leftovers are inevitable—a few scoops of green bean casserole here, a little bit of stuffing and gravy there. Not to mention, there’s all that residual roast turkey to contend with, bones and all. But in this week’s F&W Cooks video, Andrea Nguyen shows viewers how to repurpose the latter into a delicious Chinese-Vietnamese-American noodle soup. With an Instant Pot, some aromatics, and homemade pickle, the end result is a soup that's packed with flavor and can last in the fridge for days. Find Andrea’s key tips for making the dish below, and get the recipe here.

Make the pickle

Andrea loves a little bit of pickle with her Vietnamese food, so she makes her own for this soup. She takes jalapeños, shaved carrot, salt, sugar, distilled white vinegar, and water, combining everything together in a jar. The sugar and salt create a tart-sweet-salty flavor profile, which Andrea says is what Vietnamese food is all about, and the jalapeños add heat.

Create the foundation broth

The foundation of the broth is made with the leftover roasted turkey parts. Andrea notes if you butterflied the turkey, you can also include the raw backbone—it’s ok to combine raw and cooked ingredients in this instance, since they’re all going in the Instant Pot together. Just break everything into smaller pieces and get them into the pot.

Add the aromatics

Next, Andrea weighs two ounces of ginger and adds it to the Instant Pot, alongside yellow onion for depth, fuji apple for sweetness, star anise, kosher salt, and nine cups of water. Once everything is in, she locks the lid and sets the pot to cook on high pressure for 40 minutes.

Prep the mushrooms

While the broth cooks, Andrea soaks the dried shiitake mushrooms in a bowl of water to rehydrate them—if you added them straight to the broth, they would lose their character, she says. Turn them so that the gills of the mushroom cap are facing down into the water, allowing them to soak in the liquid. If you’re in a hurry, snap off the stems so that moisture goes into the caps faster.

Drain the liquid

Once the mushrooms are puffed up and thick, drain them and save the liquid (you’ll add it to the broth later on). Then, chop the mushrooms into bite-sized pieces and put them back in the soaking liquid.

Pick your noodle

Andrea says you could use Chinese noodles, ramen noodles, or soba noodles. Whichever you choose, you can cook them in advance. You’re not looking for an al dente texture, she says—you want a chewy tenderness. There also won’t be instructions on the package, so Andrea suggests going rogue when you cook. Taste a strand, and when you feel like it’s done, drain the pasta and flush it with cold water so it cools quickly.

Soy sauce and five-spice help flavor the broth

Andrea says the Chinese influenced so much of Vietnamese food, and notes her use of soy sauce in this dish—fish sauce is not the only seasoning that gives a signature touch to Vietnamese food, she says. To give the broth “a hint of where it came from,” Andrea says you’d typically use roast duck. In this case, she has turkey, so she uses five-spice to achieve that flavor.

You don’t have to cook the traditional way

As she works, Andrea notes that you don’t have to cook traditional food the traditional way—you can take modern approaches, and a pressure cooker allows you to do that with this recipe. Her family used them in the late 1970s after they arrived America, and had a couple accidents along the way (one blew up). But with the Instant Pot, she notes you can program and walk away without having to worry about adjusting the pressure.

Let the Instant Pot de-pressurize

After the time is up, Andrea lets the pressure release naturally from the pot for 20 minutes. Even then, she notes that there is still some residual pressure in there, so she manually helps it out.

Remove the solids

Once you lift the lid, the broth will be really, really hot, so wait for it to stop bubbling. Then, take out the solids and strain the broth into a pot with the mushrooms and mushroom soaking liquid already in it. Andrea prefers using unbleached muslin to strain the soup, since you can re-use it and it lets just the right amount of fat through while still producing a clear finish.

Add the finishing touches

Andrea adds the soy sauce and five-spice to the broth. From there, you can choose to save it in the fridge for a few days or reheat on the stove and serve immediately. In this video, she gets it right on the stove. While the broth is simmering, she adds baby bok choi, cooking it until it is bright green and tender-soft. She also adds a little salt for taste.

Plate it

In a bowl, Andrea adds turkey and noodles, along with green onions and cilantro. Then, she ladles the broth on top and finishes it off with white pepper, plus chili oil or sesame oil for perfume. If you want some embellishment, add some of the homemade pickle and a little bit of the brine. Then, all that’s left to do is eat—and Andrea recommends the two-handed approach, with chopsticks in one hand and a spoon in the other. Make sure you get all the ingredients in every bite, so each is an adventure.

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