Soups are forgiving vessels for holiday leftovers. You can add or subtract vegetables and spices, use broth or water and decide the amount of meat to include. Which means soups are also perfect for people with food allergies, such as my two children. With a few adjustments to almost any recipe, I can make a safe, satisfying meal for the whole family.

The secret to my turkey soup is to start with the carcass and a few drippings from a brined bird. I use Turkey Perfect’s herb brine, which is free of gluten and most allergens and infuses the bird with intense moisture and subtle flavor. Find it at or at Kroger stores. If your bird is not brined, that’s not a problem; roast turkey or rotisserie chicken carcasses work well, too. (You can also stew your own chicken for the soup by putting two bone-in breasts in the crockpot on low all day with onion, salt and pepper. Don’t add water.)

It is delicious as is, but those without dairy allergies can add a swirl of half-and-half to individual bowls to kick it up a notch. Leftovers freeze well.

While I’m cooking the turkey soup, I do double duty on another burner, where I simmer a holiday hambone for a ham and bean soup. Place the bone in a pot with 12 cups of water and add HoneyBaked Ham’s wheat-, dairy- and egg-free Ham Bone Soup Mix and seasoning. Simmer the mix and ham for two hours before removing the bone, peeling the meat and allowing it to cool. You can add celery, onions, garlic and tomatoes to the broth.

The hearty addition of lentils, black-eyed peas and other beanspintos, kidneys and limasinfuses the house with a heavenly aroma, and we have a delicious, safe, homemade meal for another day.

More soup recipes, including a vegetable beef and classic vegetable, are on our Big Bite blog.

Joyce Clark Hicks can be reached at

Allergen-free holiday soup

Serves 4, with leftovers

1 leftover turkey carcass, preferably brined, or rotisserie chicken carcass with meat reserved
3 medium onions, chopped (1 coarsely chopped for making stock)
3 large carrots, diced (1 cut in chunks for making stock)
3 celery ribs, diced (1 coarsely chopped for making stock)
Generous drizzle of dairy-free butter (such as Fleischmann’s unsalted margarine or Smart Balance Light spread) or olive oil
1 cup uncooked jasmine rice
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. chicken bouillon granules or 2 cubes of Knorr’s Homestyle chicken stock cups
3/4 tsp. pepper

Place turkey or chicken carcass in a soup kettle or Dutch oven along with carrot, onion and celery chunks and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 35 minutes to an hour (until meat is tender and falling from the bones). Remove carcass and strain it and the vegetables over a colander; cool. Set aside 3 quarts of broth. Remove meat from bones and cut into bite-size pieces; set aside.

In a Dutch oven, sauté onions, carrots and celery in dairy-free butter or olive oil until tender and starting to turn translucent. Gradually add 1 quart of reserved broth. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes.

Add rice, salt, bouillon, pepper, remaining broth and reserved meat. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until rice is tender.

*If your family can tolerate dairy, swirl 1-1/2 to 2 cups of half-and-half into the soup at the end. Do not boil, but let simmer until warm. Alternatively, you can put a swirl of half-and-half in individual bowls for a creamier soup.