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Warm Winter Soups at a Moment’s Notice
Turkey Soup

By Sue Mosbacher, UCCE Master Food Preserver of El Dorado County

Published in Mountain Democrat December 7, 2022

When I’m hungry and in a hurry to make dinner or lunch this winter, a hot bowl of soup from a home-canned jar will be my go-to-meal. The soup, with its pre-cooked vegetables and meat, is much healthier and less expensive than a fast-food meal, And the best part? It’s delicious!

Like many other people, I had a lot of Thanksgiving turkey leftovers. I spent the weekend pressure canning 18 quarts of turkey broth and six quarts of basic turkey soup without seasonings. I’ll use the broth as a base for any kind of soup I decide to make, and each of the quarts of soup (which contains turkey and vegetables) will turn into a different meal with minimal prep. To one I’ll add noodles, for turkey noodle soup. To another, I’ll add leftover rice, for turkey rice soup. (Some of that rice may be wild rice for a nice pop of color contrast.) To another I’ll add diced tomatoes. To another I’ll add orzo and half-and-half for a creamy turkey soup. To another I’ll add leftover barley, quinoa or couscous. And to the last one I’ll add flour, egg noodles and evaporated milk. I’ll add different spices so each will have a unique taste.

The options are endless. Did you know pressure canned soup is the one canning recipe that gives you plenty of customization options? The National Center for Home Food Preservation canning section (https://nchfp.uga.edu/) has a generic recipe for canning any type of soup, with some food safety considerations.

  • Use a pressure canner. The temperature inside a jar needs to reach 240 degrees Fahrenheit to destroy any Clostridium botulinum bacteria that could be on or in your food. In a regular canner, no matter how hard the boil, the temperature will never get that high. You need to build pressure to increase the temperature to 240 F. Clostridium botulinum grows in low-acid foods (soup) that have moisture (again, soup), no air (sealed jar), and are stored at room temperature (your pantry/cupboard). This pathogen creates the toxin that gives people botulism. You need to use a pressure canner to ensure canned low-acid foods are safe to eat.
  • Only use rehydrated beans. The purpose of canning is to ensure enough heat penetration of the food long enough to destroy all foodborne pathogens. It takes heat longer to penetrate a rock-hard dry bean than it does a rehydrated bean. The research-based recipes all use rehydrated beans to guarantee no pathogens, are in your sealed jar.
  • Use partially cooked meat; cooked until it is tender. This makes the canning time better match the canning time for vegetables.
  • Don’t add thickeners, such as flour or cream, because they will slow down the heat penetration in the jar. Instead, you can add thickeners when you’re serving the soup.
  • Don’t add pasta, rice, barley or other grains when canning. Again, add them when you’re serving the soup. In addition to being thickeners, they’ll also dissolve during the long canning process. Yuck.
  • When you fill the hot jar, use a slotted spoon and fill half of the jar with the solid pieces of the soup. Then fill the rest of the jar with the soup’s liquid. This provides enough liquid for thorough heat penetration and a beautiful solid-to-liquid ratio.
  • Pressure can pints for 60 minutes, quarts for 75 minutes, adjusting the pressure for your elevation. Find the full instructions at https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_04/soups.html.

Using this approach, I’ve converted a lot of regular soup recipes to a canned version, including French Onion Soup; Kale, Potato, Bean & Chorizo Soup; Navy Bean & Bacon Soup; Chipotle Chicken Soup; and Beef Barley Soup, with the barley added when serving.

Leftover meat is a great base for nutritious and filling soups you can enjoy all winter. What kind will you make? 

If you have questions about canning soup or any other food safety or preservation questions, please contact the UC Master Food Preservers of El Dorado County. Leave a message at (530) 621-5506 or email us at edmfp@ucanr.edu. For more information about our program, events and recipes, visit our website at http://ucanr.edu/edmfp. Sign up to receive our eNewsletter at http://ucanr.org/mfpcsenews/ . Find us on Facebook, too (UCCE Master Food Preservers of El Dorado County).