No More Turkey Soup!

Posted by on Dec 31, 2014 in Feeding the Mind | Comments Off

No More Turkey Soup!

When I was about 13 there was a huge upheaval in our family.  Apart from the fact that I had become a teenager (a nightmare for my mother) I announced to the family that I hated soup.  I’m still not a huge fan but with experimentation I have narrowed down my loathing of this wet, sloppy excuse for a meal to ones that have “floaty bits” in them.  If I can see the bottom of the bowl (Miso), or it looks like someone has sneezed in it (chicken and corn) then keep it away or bring a bucket!

You might say, “so what?” there are plenty of other things to eat and you’d be right except for Christmas and the weeks following.  The traditional fate of our Christmas Turkey was Turkey Soup.  Mum would make gallons of the stuff and we would eat it for weeks after.  It just never seemed to end.  When the pot on the stove had been emptied I would inwardly celebrate only to find out that mum had a stash frozen away.  The torment! I began to dread lunch and found reasons to skip this meal, yes I hate soup that much!

Finally I spoke up and in the tactful manner of a 13 year old I told my mum that I didn’t like her soup.  It didn’t go down well.

Luckily my parents are a resourceful bunch and Dad suggested the following year that instead of making Turkey Soup, perhaps we could make Turkey Biriyani.  In a nutshell it’s a a rice dish flavoured with cardamon, garam masala and turmeric for colour (think of it as an Indian Risotto).  It’s my brother’s favourite dish when we eat out at an Indian restaurant and during his travels, my Dad had picked up a really good recipe.

Mum took a bit of convincing, after all this was going to replace her annual Turkey Soup.  Some begging from my brother and I ensued, our main argument was that Mum cooked the Christmas meal so Dad should take on some of the work and take care of Boxing Day to give her a break.  The argument worked and Dom’s Christmas Biriyani was born!

What I love about this Christmas tradition is it taught us a couple of really valuable lessons;

  1. Don’t throw leftovers away – there’s always another meal to be had!
  2. How to really debone a roast – my Dad could always be heard saying “But there’s still meat left on that!”

To be honest, this recipe doesn’t need a turkey.  You can use a leftover chicken, duck any meat really.  For a vegetarian option, omit the meat and use a vegetable stock.  This dish is super versatile, can be upscaled for larger quantities and keeps for about a week in the fridge.


Biryani Ingredients8 cardamon seeds

1 onion chopped finely

1 Tbspn oil

1 tspn garam masala (more for a stronger flavour)

1 tspn tumeric (for a stronger yellow colouring)

1 cup of basmati rice

2 cups of stock (made from the carcass of the meat you’re using – recipe to come)

Leftover meat from the stock making (recipe to come)

Optional – Sliced almonds, sultanas, chopped dates



1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan.Heat oil and spices

2. Add the onion, garam masala and turmeric and gently fry until the onion is soft

3. Add the rice and stir well to coat the rice in the oil and spices.  Fry for a couple of minutes (the rice will begin to make a popping sound)



Biryani - Add the stock

4. Add the stock.  This will produce a lot of steam so when the cloud has cleared check how much liquid is left.  The liquid should sit about 1-2 cm above the rice.  Add some water if the level is too low.

5. Give the rice and stock a stir and bring to the boil.  Once it is boiling, cover and reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.  Check regularly as we are cooking the rice using the absorption method so towards the end give the rice a stir to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pan.

If all the liquid is absorbed but the rice isn’t cooked completely, simply add about 0.5cup of water, stir, cover and check in another 5 minutes.


Biryani - Add the meat6. When the rice is cooked, remove from the heat and stir through the leftover meat from the carcass.  At this point you can also add, nuts and fruit.  The heat from the rice will heat the meat and it is ready to serve.


Biryani - Enjoy