Duck Soup: Not Groucho’s, but Mine

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This Christmas, as I have done for the past several years, I journeyed to Philadelphia, to enjoy Christmas dinner with my brother and his family. As I have said in the past (right there, for example), he is a better cook than I am. This Christmas eve, we had roast duck, and it was delicious.
One thing about my brother’s culinary preferences, he has less enthusiasm for leftovers than for starting a project afresh, so he was happy to let me have the carcass of the newly-digested duck for my own nefarious purposes. What follows is the exact nature of such purposes. You would do well to take copious notes, just in case you find yourself with a dead (and eaten) duck on your hands.

I should point out that, unlike most recipes for duck soup you will find, this one does not require you to go out and purchase an entire duck, just for the purposes of soup. I let you enjoy the full main course, then work with the remnants, thus providing you with more kapow for the simoleon, as they say.

First, let us list the ingredients, as is customary in such treatises.

  • Water (12 cups)
  • Chicken bullion (1 cube for every 4 cups, water or, in this case, 3 cubes)
  • Rosemary (2 tablespoons)
  • Thyme (2 tablespoons); sorry, no parsley and sage. We’re not in Scarborough Fair anymore.
  • Tarragon (2 tablespoons)
  • Black pepper (3 tablespoons)
  • One mostly-eaten duck
  • Portabella mushrooms (one small package of pre-sliced, assuming you are properly lazy)
  • Scallions (2 bunches)
  • Celery (2 stalks)
  • Noh Hawaiian Hot Sauce (6 shakes of the bottle). Probably any brand of Hawaiian hot sauce will do, but I know this one gets the job done. I’ll provide a link, in case you don’t find it in your local hot sauce emporium.

Now, here is where you really need to start paying attention. Take your fingers off the Blackberry jam and focus. The following is a list of exgredients.

  • Limburger cheese (2.5 wheels)
  • Phencyclidine (to taste)
  • Mexican jumping beans (one bushel). Note, for the terminally p.c., Hispanic jumping beans may be substituted.
  • Silly Putty (2 eggs)
  • Sweat sock (one, but it must be the left one)

Now that you have all your stuff, here is how to go about turning it into a mighty tasty soup.

First, remove everything you can from the duck carcass. Take off anything that is soft, including liver parts and fatty skin. I suppose if you encounter a huge globule of just plain fat, you may want to toss it out, but do not be afraid of a little fat, such as you will typically find under the skin.

Then, chop up the celery stalks and scallions. Go ahead and use the entire scallion, except the little stringy things at the beginning of each one. Wash and drain all your veggies, including the mushrooms.

Now, fill a large pot or kettle with your 12 cups of water and 3 chicken bullion cubes, and bring it to a boil.

Once you have your boiling and bullion-infested water going, insert the aforementioned herbs, including the pepper. Stir the result for a bit, then get ready to resume chunking stuff in.

Next, add the vegetables and removed duck parts. Stir them around and shake in the Hawaiian hot sauce (which is not all that hot, but provides a nice flavor). Now stir some more. At this point, you will want to throw in the duck bones, which you will later retrieve. Nobody is asking you to eat bones here.

Reduce the boil and cover the pot. Let it cook for half an hour.

What I did next, and suggest that you may want to do as well, was to remove the bones and set them aside. Then I turned off the heat. Then, while waiting for the skeleton to cool off, I poured myself a small test cup of my concoction. It was very good if I do say so myself.

Once the bones have cooled off enough, you will find there is yet even more meat that has been softened and loosened by the cooking process. Remove that newly-accessible meat and drop it in the soup. Now, at last, you can drop the bones in the trash.

Warm the soup back up to piping-hot and serve.

Ah, but wait…

As good as my sample cup was, I wondered, does it work so well for the tortoise also work for the duck? This is sort of a variation on the “sauce for the goose vs. sauce for the gander conundrum, which I forthrightly resolved in a previous essay. I am referring to the addition of a splash of sherry, which is just about dee-rigor for turtle soup.

For those among my microscopically small readership who do not partake of things alcoholic, you do not need this step. You have a perfectly fine bowl of soup, as it is. But for those who are not averse to such a thing, a splash of sherry, to be added to the ladled soup in the bowl, not the cook pot, is a very nice touch indeed. I used a little amontillado, confident that the dose would be small enough so that I would not be overcome with the urge to wall myself up inside my walk-in closet. Do not add any more than the equivalent of a shot glass full, or you will find yourself eating sherry soup-maybe not such a horrible thing, but, then, what did you go through all that trouble with the other ingredients for?

In closing…

“Always leave ’em laughing,” as our 43rd president liked to say, so here, in conclusion, is a rendition of my favorite Walt Kelly joke:

Some guy: I woke up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and stepped on a thumbtack.

Some other guy: Ha! Serves you right for going to bed barefoot.

Happy new year.

  • Sources
  • Noh Foods
  • Pogo

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