Taming the Turkey Leg

My family enjoys roasting and eating turkey. While some folks save it for Thanksgiving and give it not a thought the rest of the year, we've been known to have one just about every month in winter and at least once or twice when it's warm and we can enjoy them on the grill or smoker. That said, we don't tend to have arguments about who gets to have the turkey legs. The meat on them can be amazing, but pulling it all apart and working through things to make it so can be a challenge. That is, unless you have a slow cooker and a little patience:

Let me introduce you to Slow Cooker Turkey Fajita Soup. It's an incredibly good way to use turkey legs because your slow cooker does a great job of converting turkey legs from stuck-to-the-bone tough meat into a beautifully tender, fall-of-the-bone ingredient for a spicy soup. You can even split the prep on this one and cook the meat enough to get it off the bone, put it and your remaining ingredients into the slow cooker stoneware, pop it in the refrigerator overnight, and finish things up the next day. Now there's a versatile meal!

Speaking of versatile, you can also mix and match ingredients in this soup. Black beans make it heartier. Opt for spicy peppers if you like it really hot. You could even add some rice to the mix to make it thicker. Even a little cream stirred into the mix would work. You can also tweak the seasonings (and the seasoning level of the canned tomatoes you choose) to make it milder or hotter. It's really up to you. You could even opt to use chicken in this soup if you don't have turkey on hand. That said, this one's just a fantastic use for those tough legs.

Another place to get creative is toppings. I opted to toss sliced corn tortillas with canola oil and seasonings and baked them until they were delightfully crisp. Use store-bought chips, a dollop of sour cream, sliced green onions, diced avocado, or any other toppings you'd add to a bowl of chili or your favorite taco. They will be equally at home on this hearty soup. By the way, one of my favorite ways to work this soup into our routine is to make a big batch and have it as an easy weeknight supper so we can get our winter gear on after a quick dinner and spend an hour or two ice skating before it's time for our bedtime rituals. It's the perfect way to warm up and fuel up for the winter fun!

Slow Cooker Turkey Fajita Soup

  • 2 fully-cooked turkey legs (I usually freeze them whenever I roast a turkey and pull them out a few weeks later when the other leftovers are gone)
  • 2 liters turkey or chicken stock
  • 1-2 medium onions, peeled and sliced into thin wedges
  • 1 large orange bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
  • 2 cans spicy diced tomatoes (I used some seasoned with chipotle peppers)
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 2 tsp. fajita seasoning
  • Salt, to taste

Place the turkey legs in the slow cooker and add enough stock to cover them. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on HIGH for 1-2 hours or until the meat is falling off the bones of the legs. Carefully remove the meat from the slow cooker and remove all of the meat from the bones. Discard the bones, skin, etc. Coarsely chop the meat and return it to the slow cooker.

Add the remaining ingredients, cover the slow cooker, and cook on LOW for 3-4 hours or until the vegetables are soft. Serve garnished with baked tortilla strips, if desired.

  • Yields: 8-10 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes hands-on time, 4-6 hours cooking time

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