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Asopao de Pavo

This will be my first Thanksgiving ever spent away from my family in North Carolina. I have always approached things like this stoically. I am not much given to excessive emotion, which some mistake for apathy, but which is really just my disposition. I have never really had the energy or seen the point to getting upset and lingering in disappointment. It just isn't how I operate.

But it is different this year, not necessarily because of the fact of Thanksgiving and being away, but because I've never been so far away from my family that a day's car ride wouldn't see me home. When you have a very large, very tight-knit family and you make the decision to move across the country from them, you do end up feeling a bit like a prodigal child even if your intentions were only good. But then, I have always had a bit of the black sheep about me, and my family has never let it stop them from loving me--a fact that I am perhaps more thankful for than anything else in my life.

Being away from them has, however, made this Thanksgiving seem less momentous. We do have plans to celebrate at John's mother's house, but I find myself much less focused on the day itself this year. I suppose this is all well and good. The idea of thanksgiving is less a special day for me than it is a daily reminder of how much I have been given so far in this life. I don't need a holiday to remind me to be thankful. It is a practice I try to engage in every day.

This post has little to do with soup or leftovers, but I felt the need to share this recipe in any case. It is usually made with chicken (pollo), but for post-Thanksgiving leftovers we're making it with turkey (pavo). It is quite possibly one of the more delicious soups I have ever eaten, with a nice jolt of spice and so savory you'll feel warm down to your bones. It also has the added benefit of preventing that "warmed over" flavor leftover poultry sometimes acquires in the refrigerator.

You may be tempted to skip the green olives (as I was), but don't. They provide a nice salty bite.

Other articles you might enjoy: Chicken Pot Pie, Pressure Cooker Chicken Stock, Portuguese Greens Soup

Asopao de Pavo (Turkey and Rice Soup)
Makes about 9 cups

*Note: This soup will be more flavorful if you make a stock with the turkey carcass and use that stock here. See our post on pressure-cooker chicken stock--the same rules apply. If you're tired of cooking, which is probably the case after Thanksgiving, feel free to use store-bought chicken stock.

Heat in a soup pot over medium-low heat:
           3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Add and cook, stirring until tender but not browned, 5 to 10 minutes:
           1 medium onion, diced
           1 medium green or red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
           (1/2 cup diced chorizo or ham)
           1 Scotch bonnet pepper or 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and diced (leave the seeds in if you like more heat)
           6 garlic cloves, minced

Stir in:
           6 cups turkey or chicken stock
           One 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
           1/2 cup long-grain white rice
           (2 teaspoons ground annatto seeds or smoked paprika)

Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the rice is cooked, about 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in:
           Leftover shredded cooked turkey (as much or as little as you like)
           1 cup fresh or thawed frozen peas
           1/2 cup chopped cilantro
           1/2 cup sliced green olives
           Salt to taste

Simmer gently 2 to 3 minutes, or until the turkey is heated through.

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