When I was a child, I thought I was one of a kind -- the kind of person who loves chicken, but doesn't love turkey.
My mother indulged my taste in poultry, and instead of insisting I make a meal out of side dishes, for every holiday she'd cook two main courses. Turkey and brisket. Turkey and meatballs. Turkey and....
As I've grown older, my tastes have grown up. I still don't love roast turkey, but I love ground turkey and always have some in my freezer.
Without the skin, turkey is naturally low in fat, and a good source of folic acid, vitamins B, B1,B6, zinc and potassium. Its neutral flavor accepts all variations of seasoning, from Mexican to Italian to spicy Asian.
I substitute ground turkey in Asian recipes that call for pork -- favorites like ma po tofu and Szechuan green beans -- and I love to try different incarnations of turkey meatballs, meatloaf and burgers.
In the supermarket, look for ground white meat turkey (extremely lean) or ground dark meat, which has a bit more fat and flavor. Of course you can grind your own, if you have a meat grinding attachment for your Kitchenaid mixer.
I love roast chicken, but not roast turkey -- and ground turkey, but not ground chicken. Go figure.
Judging by the number of people who've written to tell me they've tried this recipe, this is my all-time #1 best soup. It started, as many great soups do, as "fridge dump". Substitute spinach for escarole, or ground chicken for ground turkey, but don't omit the parm rind; it makes all the difference. Serves 6-8.
2 tsp olive oil
1-1/2 lb ground turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
2 zucchini, chopped
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste
2 tsp dried thyme leaf
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 large head escarole, washed, roughly chopped (or 2 small bags of baby spinach)
6 oz ground or chopped canned tomato, or fresh tomato
4 cups chicken stock (low-sodium store-bought, or homemade)
1 cup water, if needed to cover
1/4 cup small pasta (orzo, pilaf noodles, spaghetti broken into small pieces, etc.)
Rind of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (the secret ingredient) -- any size you have
In a stock pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat, and sauté ground turkey until no longer pink. Add onion, zucchini and mushrooms, and sauté until onions are translucent. Stir in pepper flakes, thyme and black pepper. Add escarole or spinach, and stir to combine. When the escarole is just slightly wilted, add tomato and stock, water if needed, pasta, and the cheese rind. After the escarole has cooked down, add a cup or two of water, if the soup seems too thick. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes. If you used homemade chicken stock, you may wish to add salt and more pepper, to taste.
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