Thanksgiving Leftovers: Ham & Macaroni Soup

A few days ago, I was sitting in a hospital room. Mom had been ill, got an infection in her blood, and was even told to expect surgery. During my last visit, we watched The Today Show, Live with Kelly & Michael, The Chew, Anderson Live...all of it. (Anderson Cooper reading from 50 Shades of Chicken was the highlight. Hands down.) I went to Sutter's cafeteria at one point and picked out a modest breakfast of a muffin and a bottled Starbucks Frappucino. Then, I just returned to my seat at Mom's bedside, and we continued our viewing of daytime television programs: General Hospital. (Why did Jason Morgan have to die before knowing that Danny was his biological son? WHY?!) It was a long, drawn out morning and afternoon. My dad had already spent quite a few of these on a tiny bed/bench in the corner of the room, barely eating or sleeping. I tried distracting him by showing him around my blog, too.

These circumstances were unexpected, to say the least, and our focus couldn't have been further from the upcoming Holiday weekend.  But, of course, Thanksgiving dinner was all Mom could talk about. She wanted us to be able to enjoy a traditional meal, even if she couldn't. Because that's just what moms do, isn't it? Mine taught me that taking care of your family is one of the most important things you'll ever do in life. Time and time again, she was the anchor, crutch and savior for my dad, my sister, me, and now for her grandkids. Finally, one day before Thanksgiving, doctors told us that she was healthy enough to go home. It was the news that we were all praying for and relieved to hear. She would obviously have to rest and stay out of the kitchen. So, I promised her that I'd cook our dinner and that she wouldn't have to worry about a thing. I wanted her to have a perfect Thanksgiving.

I asked everyone, "What's the one dish that you can't have Thanksgiving without?" My dad chose turkey and cranberry sauce, my sister picked mashed potatoes and green bean casserole, and my mom & brother-in-law both wanted a glazed ham. My choice? Desserts and baked goods. Obviously. I always need something with pumpkin (this year, it was a cheesecake), pecan pie (my favorite Thanksgiving pie), and bread! It was my first time making Parker House Rolls, and I absolutely loved this recipe! Also, nothing says "Let's celebrate!" like frou-frou holiday martinis ;) Mmm. Pumpkin Spice Cake. I was so thankful for pulling off this meal, for my mom being home, and for having my family around the table to enjoy it with.

(Sidenote: I promised my sister that I would give her credit for the mashed potatoes and for paying for all of the groceries. So here's your credit, you big dork!)

Now, the leftovers... Even though there were only 5 adults and 2 small children, I made enough food for about a dozen people. Whenever I prepare food for a get-together, my mom is constantly advising me, "It's better to make more than to not have enough!" Leftovers are the best part of Thanksgiving and any Filipino party. Fact.

This year, I tackled my mom's recipe for Ham & Macaroni Soup! It's a Thanksgiving tradition and is usually the first leftovers dish of the weekend. Ham is my mom's favorite holiday dish, and we tend to have tons and tons of it at the dinner table. Over the next few days, the remaining...oh, I don't know...half-ton gets used for breakfast, lunch, dinner...everything. Mom's Ham & Macaroni Soup, though, is my favorite.

First, I used some turkey and the ham bone to make a broth. I trimmed some of the meat off of a drumstick, a wing, and the ham bone, then I diced some yellow onion and smashed a couple garlic cloves just to peel them.

In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, I browned the turkey and ham bones in a little bit of canola oil. I removed the bones, then sauteed the diced onions and whole garlic cloves until they were aromatic. To season the broth, I used bay leaves, fresh rosemary, and sprigs of fresh thyme. I always have plenty of fresh herbs left in my fridge during Thanksgiving weekend, so this was a great way to use them up. To finish, I deglazed the pot with 3 qts of water. (This is enough broth for a big pot of soup.) I returned the bones to the pot, seasoned with 2 tsp of kosher salt, and brought the broth to a simmer, then I covered the pot, lowered the heat, and let the broth cook for 1 hour.

Along with the small herb garden I have in my fridge, I'm inevitably left with a couple bags of carrots and celery as well. Every year, during that pre-Thanksgiving shopping trip, I have a tendency to maybe grab more than I actually need...I have this fear that I'll run out of an important ingredient...

However, I've found that this soup gives these vegetables a new purpose! Life outside of the crowded vegetable drawer!

In another large pot, I sauteed the diced carrots and celery with a clove of garlic. I strained the 3 qts of broth into this mixture and brought the soup to a boil.

While waiting, I chopped up the meat. I used what I trimmed off of the ham bone, turkey drumstick, and turkey wing, then I chopped a couple slices of ham and some turkey thigh to get 4 total cups of meat.

Once the soup was boiling, I added the turkey, ham, and 2 cups of macaroni. I bought macaroni during my "pre" grocery shopping with the intentions of cooking this soup, but...if you don't have any on hand...potatoes would be a tasty substitute! (Especially if, like me, you were hooked in by the sale prices and bought an unnecessary amount of potatoes...) The pasta only needs 8-10 minutes to cook, then the soup is ready to serve!

I love to eat mine with warm rolls! The soft bread is ideal for soaking up the herb-infused broth. Although, the ham is the real star. Its flavor really takes over the broth (no extra salt needed!), and there's plenty of tender, meaty chunks to bite into. Mom's Ham & Macaroni Soup is an genius and delicious way to use up leftovers! I love you, Mom, and I'm so happy that you're home! :)

Mom's Ham & Macaroni Soup (serves 6-8)

Print Recipe
1-2 tbsp Canola Oil
1 Turkey Drumstick, some meat trimmed off
1 Turkey Wing, some meat trimmed off
1 Ham Bone
1 Yellow Onion, large dice
3 large Garlic Cloves, whole
2-3 Bay Leaves
3 qts Water
2 tsp Kosher Salt
2 tbsp Unsalted Butter
2 cups Diced Carrots
2 cups Diced Celery
3 qts Broth
4 cups Chopped Ham & Turkey
2 cups Macaroni Pasta
  1. To make the broth: In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, brown the turkey drumstick, turkey wing, and ham bone in the canola oil. Remove the bones from the pot. Add the diced onions and whole garlic cloves. Saute the mixture until aromatic, then add the bay leaves, rosemary, and thyme. Next, deglaze the pan with the 3 qts of water and season with kosher salt. Bring the broth to a simmer, then lower the heat, cover, and cook for at least 1 hr. Strain.
  2. To make the soup: In another large pot over medium-high heat, melt the unsalted butter. Saute the diced carrots and diced celery for 2 minutes. Then, pour the broth into the pot and bring the soup to a boil. Once the soup is boiling, add the 4 cups of meat and 2 cups of macaroni. Cook until the macaroni is al dente, about 8-10 minutes.
  3. Serve the soup with warm bread. Enjoy!