Holiday turkey leftovers are just around the corner, and who doesn't love turkey pot pie? But all that gluten in the crust and all that cream and butter in the soup... It's not exactly what we need to add to our calorie store after we've been stockpiling calories and fat for the entire holiday season.
So I figured out how to make turkey pot pie healthy. I swear I did.
The best thing about turkey pot pie is the thick, creamy, turkey-infused goodness of the gravy, right? I always thought to myself, growing up, that I could eat it with a spoon, forget the crust and vegetables. So getting that part of the recipe healthy was going to be the hardest...
I started that sauce by boiling my whole turkey carcass in a huge stock pot for hours and hours, together with the leftover celery, onions and apples that I had roasted with the turkey. Then I added more celery and onions into the stockpot. Everything was falling apart by the time I was done.
I took the carcass out and picked all the remaining meat off of it and set it aside. Then I used my colander and a slotted spoon to pull out everything solid from the stockpot. The celery and onions and apple went into my Ninja (or you can use a food processor or blender) for pureeing. And the meat I sorted through. If I found a piece of cartilage or other funky looking parts, it went into the Ninja for pureeing with the mushy veggies. Cartilage and other soft parts off the carcass are good for you, but can only be tolerated if we don't see or bite into them. Only the perfect pieces of meat would remain as chunks in my turkey pot pie. Nobody wants to bite into cartilage, right? Since I didn't have a whole lot of funky meat, I threw some of the perfect meat into the Ninja with the veggies. Pureed it right up. It look whitish, the mixture did.
That's when I realized. Oh my Christmas stars! Pureed meat, onion, celery and apple would be the thickener for my creamy gravy, so I wouldn't need to use as much - you guessed it - CREAM in my creamy gravy. Huge calorie cut right there. And pureeing turkey made the creamy gravy taste oh so rich and turkey-infused. Since I tend to err on the side of Paleo leanings in my thinking, I do not think cream and butter (if organic and pasture-raised) are the villains they are supposed to be. Still, one doesn't want to overdo cream and butter, no matter how health-enriching they may be. Small servings of healthy fats are adequate for chubby little Paleo-afficiandos like me.
So I added my puree of turkey parts, onion, celery and apple back into my turkey stock simmering on the stove. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough puree to thicken it into a thick cream suitable for turkey pot pie, but it looked perfect for a creamy soup. Then I realized what I was making: turkey pot pie soup. I googled it. Sure enough, I wasn't the first person to think of it, but all the versions out there were too rich and so unhealthy.
I gazed into my bubbling creamy soup (which still had not a bit of cream in it) and felt so superior. I tasted a spoonful of it. It was already good with nothing fattening added. No packets of powdered chemical-laden artificial turkey gravy mixes. No flour. No multiple cups of heavy whipping cream. Just thickened with veggies from the stock and turkey.
But it needed a bit more savory-ness.
So I got out the sage and the savory, some thyme, a single bay leaf, basil and a touch of rosemary. Added some sea salt, some fresh cracked black pepper. And I let her simmer.
Then I washed some whole organic carrots, left the skins on, cut off the ends, and dropped them in the soup whole. Have you ever done that? It's so unusual and artistic to have whole fat long carrots floating like logs in your soup. And when you serve a bowl of soup with a lovely long carrot in it and your guests cut into the carrot with a spoon, they notice how much of the carrot flavor was retained in the carrot. I did it once in the interests of saving time (and being lazy too), and I do it all the time now. If whole carrots are too extreme for you, do half-carrots. You'll love the flavor when you cut into them.
I chopped celery up fine and dumped in a bowl (in addition to the pureed liquid celery already in there and the hours that former celery boiled in the stock). Can you tell I like a celery flavor to my soup?
And I love big fat chunks of onion, so I cut up a bunch of onion chunks and tossed them in (added to the pureed onion already in there). I chopped up some shiitake and oyster mushrooms too.
When the carrots were tender, I added a small amount of chunked potatoes and the cubes of turkey meat I'd cut up and set aside after boiling the stock. I also added some yellow squash I had in the fridge.
When the potatoes were tender, it was just about done. Then a bag of frozen bright green sweet peas went in at the end (canned ones have an awful army-green color and are mushy).I dolloped in some organic butter and organic heavy cream. Not much. Just a dollop. So it was the perfect thickness, whiteness and creaminess I wanted, with some butter grease floating on top so it looked more fattening than it was (appearances are everything).
Now, I'm gluten intolerant, so no crust was needed for me. I could have made a gluten-free pie crust, but I didn't. Google gluten-free pie crust, if you want to make small ones to go on top of your bowls of soup. Or you could make miniature gluten-free biscuits and toss them on top.
I didn't bother. I ate it like soup. Bowl after bowl. Full of warm nutrition. A souperfood soup truly.
I'd made a huge soup so we ate on it for a few days, and it got thick toward the end after being reheated a couple times. So at that point, I poured the thick remains into two pie plates and threw a crust on top of it and baked it for my grandsons who actually love the pie-aspect of turkey pot pie.
For those of you who like recipes with actual measurements, here you go - and remember this is a big soup, so cut it in half or by a third if you wish.
*In the photo above, the turkey was roasted with other veggies. Only puree onions, celery and apples for your thickening puree mix. They puree into a whitish, creamy texture and have the right flavor for this soup. Do not puree carrots in that mix or you will have an orange soup. Don't puree darker green veggies or you will have a greenish tinted soup. You are going for a white/beige cream-based look for this soup. BUT you can add chunks of any vegetable you like into the soup. Some people like broccoli, zucchini, asparagus chunks, cauliflower, or starches like corn (non-GMO). You can also puree cauliflower to thicken the soup further. Some people like white beans in a soup like this. I've soaked and sprouted white beans in the past and then pureed them as an alternative thickener for a cream soup. It tasted too beany. But a small amount of pureed white beans might be just what you want for additional thickening to this soup. Or just have them loose, swimming about in the soup. I left corn and beans out because they are so fattening, and this is (lest we forget) a weight-loss blog. (Sweet peas are high-sugar fattening starch, I know, but I left the sweet peas in because it's just not turkey pot pie without bright green sweet peas. Use half a bag if you want to minimize their calories).
Eat your heart out - and be thankful it's so heart-healthy that you can actually indulge to your heart's content. Let me know if you liked it.