THE backbone of any kitchen worth its salt is good, freshly made stock. Our most used stock is a combination of roasted chicken carcasses and necks, carrots, onions, a few tomatoes and mushrooms, water and time (not thyme), nothing else. Wine, herbs, seasonings and garlic come later, when we use it. The resulting brown stock is the basis for sauce-making, braising meats and simmering certain vegetables. From unremarkable ingredients, comes an indispensable, precious foundation.

Yet trying to reproduce such stock at home isn't that simple. We cook a total of 30kg of bones at a time, in pots that are enormous compared to anything found in a domestic kitchen – mine included.

But immediately after Christmas, with a turkey carcass in your fridge, you suddenly have an opportunity to make some outstanding stock. Chop up the carcass, add roasted carrots, onions, sliced mushrooms and, in this case, thyme, rosemary and a few peppercorns as this version cooks for less time. Simmer uncovered, replenishing the water, for four hours then pass through a fine sieve, reserving the golden liquid: unlock a world of splendid soups, real risottos, brilliant braises and cracking casseroles.

Turkey, barley and winter vegetable broth

Recipes serve four

2 medium leeks

3 white turnips, peeled

3-4 carrots, peeled

70g puy lentils

70g pearl barley

1 litre turkey (or chicken) stock

Several bushy thyme sprigs

1 sprig of rosemary

5 black peppercorns

80ml white wine

1 rounded dstsp chopped parsley (reserve the stalks)

1 tsp chopped tarragon

1 tsp chopped chervil

50g unsalted butter


1. Trim the dark green top from the leeks. Reserve one large leaf and lay this on a chopping board. Place the thyme, rosemary, peppercorns and parsley stalks in the middle of this leek leaf then fold and wrap the leaf in half to create a little parcel holding everything in place. Tie with string to secure, then set aside.

2. Halve the leeks lengthways, remove the root, then cut the leeks into three or four long strips, lengthways. Now cut across these to give squares about 1cm in size. Transfer to a colander and rinse and drain; set aside for now.

3. Cut the turnips into rounds then cut across each round to create 1cm-wide batons, then cut across these to give 1cm square dice; set aside for now

4. Cut the carrots lengthways into 1cm-thick strips. Now cut each strip into a 1cm wide baton then cut across these to give squares of 1cm in size. Set aside for now.

5. Heat a large saucepan and add the butter, allow to melt for one minute then add the carrot, season lightly with salt and fry very gently for five minutes. Then add the turnip dice and repeat, frying for a few more minutes. Finally add the leek, and fry gently, cover with a lid, stirring occasionally. Do not brown

6. Meanwhile, place the puy lentils in a small pan and the barley in another small pan. Cover each with cold water then bring to boil and reduce the heat so the water simmers. Cook both the lentils and the barley for 10-15 minutes then strain; once strained they can be mixed.

7. Add the blanched lentils and barley to the pan of vegetables. Add the wine and bring this to the boil then allow it to reduce by half. Add the stock and the tied up leek, bring to a simmer then reduce heat and bubble very gently until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Can be done to this point and chilled then reheated carefully when needed, or finished and served now

8. To finish and serve, taste and adjust the seasoning as required. Remove the tied leek and discard. Add the chopped herbs and stir well then ladle evenly between four serving bowls, making sure the different vegetables are distributed as evenly as possible. If you have turkey meat left over, it is delicious to shred this finely and add to the broth as you re-heat it.

Cream of turkey noodle soup

2 onions peeled and finely diced

1 clove garlic, peeled and finely sliced

110g dried spaghetti

Whole black pepper to grind

Nutmeg to grate

Butter, about 40g

Shredded leftover turkey meat, about 200g

A sprig of thyme

1 dstsp chopped parsley

1litre turkey stock

200ml double cream

1. Heat a wide saucepan for one minute then and add a dessertspoon of oil and a generous knob of butter. Once melted, add the onion and season lightly with salt. Cover with a lid and sweat very slowly, stirring regularly, so the onion softens but doesn’t colour. Halfway through, when you think the onion is getting translucent, add the garlic and continue until both are soft.

2. Add the shredded turkey meat and a sprig of thyme. Cover with a generous amount of stock and bring to the boil.

3. While waiting, lay a clean tea towel out on the kitchen surface. Lay the dried spaghetti in it then roll it up in a tight sausage shape. With one hand at each end to hold the spaghetti in place, run this back and forth over the table edge in an arcing motion, to break up the spaghetti into short lengths. Carefully unroll the towel and tip the broken up spaghetti into the boiling liquid. Season with black pepper and cook until the pasta is tender, about 8-10 minutes or according to the manufacture’s instructions. Remove the thyme and discard.

4. Reduce the heat and add the cream. Bring almost to the boil , add nutmeg and taste for seasoning. You may wish to add a small squeeze of lemon juice. Swirl in the herbs then serve at once.

Geoffrey Smeddle is chef proprietor of The Peat Inn, by St Andrews, Fife, KY15 5LH 01334 840206