Thanksgiving Leftovers: Corn and Turkey Chowder

Hi All. Barb here. I know you are absolutely bursting after yesterday, and perhaps nursing a tryptophan hangover, or a real one. Also, perhaps you are wondering what to do with the turkey carcass? So I decided to rerun a blog from two years ago for you–the one with my grandmother’s recipe for corn and turkey chowder.


Thanksgiving Dinner--After

Thanksgiving Dinner–After

I hope yesterday you had a lovely day. We did. We spent the holiday at my husband’s sister’s house with most of my husband’s five siblings and spouses, along with assorted nieces, nephews, in-laws, outlaws and friends. It’s always a lovely day and the food, contributed by everyone, is delicious.

But I have to admit that my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner is the leftovers. To wit:

Pie for breakfast: Pie, particularly apple or pumpkin, is the perfect breakfast food, a special treat after a holiday or other special occasion.



A turkey sandwich: I prefer mine cold, with mayo, stuffing, cranberry, and dark meat. On toasted white, or even better, scali bread. My husband cooks the “second turkey” for our celebration, and part of the reason to have one is to make sure everyone goes home with leftovers.

My grandmother’s Corn and Turkey Chowder: I grew up all my life with this dish. Initially, my father’s mother made it, then my mom took over, and now I do it.

This year, I thought we were out of luck, because my husband, a relentless experimenter, is doing a de-boned turkey. (You cook it over the stuffing, which gives the flavors of the turkey to the stuffing without the dangers of having it in the bird–at least allegedly.) So I’d written off the corn and turkey chowder. But my husband got to the butcher before they’d de-boned the bird, and was offered the carcass–so we’re back on.



It’s a hearty soup, so chuck in plenty of turkey meat. However, as a child and into adulthood, I never, ever ate this meal without someone from one of the previous two generations saying, “When we made this during the Depression, there was never any meat left on the turkey bones. You kids don’t know how good you have it.”

They were right, of course. We probably don’t, but we certainly can appreciate how lucky we are to share this satisfying dish.

Here is the recipe, exactly as my mother wrote it down for me.

Corn and Turkey Chowder

Day One

Break turkey carcass into as small pieces as you can–include skin. Cover with water–two quarts will usually do it. Add a regular cooking onion with the skin on it, stuck with three or four cloves. Bring to a boil and simmer with lid partway on, an hour to an hour and a half. Pick out large pieces of carcass and strain the rest into a big bowl. Pick useable meat off the carcass and out of the strainer and add it to the broth in the bowl. Refrigerate overnight. Throw out bones.

Day Two

Remove fat from top of broth.
If only making for a few, divide broth and meat and freeze half for later use.
Put other half back in pot.
Add 1/3 to 1/2 bag of frozen chopped onions. Bring to a simmer.

  • two cans of creamed corn
  • one can of niblet corn
  • one can of evaporated milk.
  • salt and pepper to taste.

You can use the remaining frozen turkey base to make turkey soup or you can make another batch of corn and turkey chowder later.

When making for a lot of people, use whole base, increase both kinds of corn, onion and evaporated milk. You sort of learn by doing. You want a substantial dish out of this. If you think you have too much broth, boil it down a little before adding the other ingredients.

Serve with a crusty bread.






About Barbara Ross

Barbara Ross is the author of the Maine Clambake Mysteries. Her books have been nominated for multiple Agatha Awards for Best Contemporary Novel and have won the Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction. She lives in Portland, Maine. Readers can visit her website at
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4 Responses to Thanksgiving Leftovers: Corn and Turkey Chowder

  1. Reine says:

    Barb, except for the turkey—which I know is an exquisite ingredient—this is my corn chowder! My boiled down Turkey carcass and extra drippings, etc. are sitting up in the fridge now. I was going to make turkey and wild rice soup, but now that I’ve seen this I think I’ll give it a try. Looks great!

  2. Judy Copek says:

    Sounds good, although I’ve never been a fan of creamed soups–an old childhood aversion I should probably conquer. It’s so good to use every scrap of turkey including the carcass. Amazing how much flavor the bones lend. And pie for breakfast? Yes indeed. Hard to beat.

  3. Lea Wait says:

    My Scots grandmother also made turkey soup … but she didn’t include corn, and did add barley and ground carrots, celery, etc. Love home made soups!

  4. Beth Clark says:

    Of course with apple pie you must also have cheddar cheese. Enjoy.

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