Growing up, we didn’t start any Christmas festivities until after Thanksgiving. But once Friday hit, it was all hands on deck. We brought the decorations up from the basement and wrapped lights around the bushes outside. We ventured out to a tree farm in search of the perfect Christmas tree (which always ended up being way too big), and then spent the rest of the weekend attempting to get it inside the door. There would be buffet of Thanksgiving leftovers to enjoy, hot cider or chocolate in the works and carols playing in the background. To this day, it’s one of my favorite weekends of the year.
The picture I have in my head is probably much more romantic than the reality. There were always tangled strands of lights that caused complete exasperation and evergreen needles hiding in the carpet, only to make their presence known by puncturing our bare feet. I’m sure that as a kid I voiced my fair share of complaints, and getting the whole family out the door to buy a tree was a challenge on par with scaling Everest. Yet in the midst of both the excitement and the frustrations, I remember those couple days as being a precious time with family. There was nothing official on the agenda other than to do Christmassy things, eat leftovers and enjoy one another.
This Slow Cooker Turkey + Wild Rice Soup is meant for those kinds of weekends. You can follow the recipe exactly as written, or use up whatever vegetables you have on hand. Sub out the sweet potatoes and corn for carrots and mushrooms. Stir in fresh spinach at the very end, or toss in a few diced tomatoes. It’s a flexible recipe that can be can be thrown together in the morning and savored in the evening…and it definitely tastes best after a day well spent with loved ones.
Slow Cooker Turkey + Wild Rice Soup
Yields about 10 servings
1½ pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup diced onion (about 1 medium onion)
1 cup diced celery (about 2-3 stalks)
1 (15.25oz) can corn, drained
1 cup uncooked wild rice, rinsed
10 cups chicken or turkey broth
1 ½ pounds cooked, chopped or shredded turkey (4-5 cups)
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
Add all the ingredients except the turkey to a slow cooker* and stir together. Cook on high for about 3 ½ hours or on low for about 6-7 hours.
Add the cooked turkey. (You can also add additional broth or water if the soup seems too thick.) Cook on low for another 30-45 minutes, or until the rice is fully cooked and the vegetables are tender. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve with toasted bread and enjoy!
*This recipe filled up my 6-quart slow cooker.