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Dark Days Challenge has Begun

December 4th, 2011

The Dark Days Challenge has begun (it’s not too late to sign up if you still want to). The idea behind the challenge is to:

Cook one meal each week featuring SOLE (sustainable, organic, local, ethical) ingredients, write about it on your blog and email your happy recapper a link to your post.

For those of us who have been eating locally for a while, this isn’t as hard as it is for someone just starting out. For us it’s about encouraging others to eat locally during that dark season when it’s more difficult. We have a group discussion forum to help people source items in their regions and to discuss meal options and alternatives for items you can’t find locally.

As a seasoned local eater, I thought I’d try to come up with more interesting recipes for the challenge this year. I’m going to try to find a few new things at the farmer’s market each month for my Dark Days meals. This past week leftovers from Thanksgiving was the theme for my meal. We had a wonderful smoked turkey from Martha’s Farm and the stock made with the bones was more like ham stock than regular turkey stock. When I woke up in the morning and smelled the smokey stock I decided that potato soup was the way to go. I have an abundance of potatoes in the garage from my summer garden and I’d like to make sure to eat them up before they start to sprout.

I don’t very often cook with recipes but I’ll do my best to put this one down in case you want to make it.


3 quarts of smoked turkey or ham stock*
1/4 cup of butter
2 large yellow onions, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, diced
3 pounds of potatoes peeled and cubed
1 pint to 1 quart of whole milk
salt and pepper to taste
your choice of tasty toppings

Melt butter in pan and add onions, cook for 5 minutes over medium to low heat until almost translucent, add garlic, salt and freshly ground pepper; cover and cook on low for additional 4-5 minutes. Add stock to pan and heat until simmering, add potatoes and cook until soft. Pour milk into pan and smash potatoes with a potato masher until soup is thick and there are only small bits of potato left. If soup is too thick add more milk, if it’s too watery cook down a bit. Top with your choice of delicious toppings: scallions, chives, bacon, cheese, etc.

*if you don’t have smoked turkey or ham stock use regular chicken stock or purchase a ham hock and simmer in water for a few hours.

As a side, I added a some tiny butter head lettuce that I got at Local Roots in Wooster, OH and a homemade buttermilk herb dressing with fresh herbs from the garden! How’s that for a meal to brighten you mood on a dark and cold December evening?

How do you creatively use up turkey leftovers from Thanksgiving? Any favorite turkey leftover meals?

13 Comments to “Dark Days Challenge has Begun”
  1. Allison on December 4, 2011 at 8:42 am

    Yum Susy! It sounds fantastic!! I am cooking up my first Dark Days meal today.

    Reply to Allison's comment

  2. Andrea Duke on December 4, 2011 at 10:22 am

    I haven’t had potato soup since living at home and never liked it. I should try it again sometime.

    Love those Staub bowls!!

    Reply to Andrea Duke's comment

  3. goatpod2 on December 4, 2011 at 10:30 am

    We had barbecue turkey this year and left it on warm in our slow cooker then later we just heated it up.


    Reply to goatpod2's comment

  4. KimH on December 4, 2011 at 10:49 am

    Simple is so much better..especially where food in concerned. Im reminded of that all the time..

    We make turkey bone soup (turkey vegetable noodle) and turkey chop suey if there is any leftover turkey from sandwiches & ground turkey salad.

    Im still gearing up for the Dark Days challenge. I have lots of winter squashes, some potatoes & apples & am still getting 2 more weekly CSA portions so for the next month or two it shouldnt be too much of a challenge.. After that, well.. we shall see. ;) Kind of fun.

    I do plan to order some bulk local grass fed beef & sweet potatoes thru the CSA.. then it should be a little easier for a while.

    Reply to KimH's comment

  5. Nebraska Dave on December 4, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    Susy, potato soup is one of my favorite soups. I haven’t made it for a while. Since we had our first snow just yesterday, it’s time to make the soup and bake the bread for the dark days of winter. Unfortunately all the farmer’s markets in my area close down for the year by the end of October. It’s a long time until they open up again at the end of May. So for locally grown stuff here it will only come from the pantry. I have a little stored away but plan on more storage next year.

    We had our first snow here which is always special. It was a wet snow that was great for snowballs and snow man making.

    Have a great late fall/early winter day.

    Reply to Nebraska Dave's comment

  6. […] simmered with homegrown potatoes and onions into a wonderfully simple potato soup (recipe over at Chiot’s Run today).  I put the plate outside to grab a few quick shots with decent light as the sun was […]

    Reply to Dark Days Challenge: Week 1 – East « Not Dabbling In Normal's comment

  7. Jennifer Fisk on December 4, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    For breakfast and dinner, I finished up the last of the cream of turkey rice soup I made last week. I’ve eaten it every dinner and a couple of lunches since Tuesday. The only thing in the soup that wasn’t grown here or locally was the rice and flour.
    I won’t have a too hard a time with the Dark Days Challenge as I already eat almost entirely from what I’ve grown,eggs, turkey, chicken, rabbit and veggies or within 50 miles, milk, beef and salad. I do use olive oil, Vermont flour and pastas I don’t make.

    Reply to Jennifer Fisk's comment

  8. kristin @ going country on December 4, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    I generally find leftover turkey far from palatable. About the only way to disguise the taste of re-heated poultry for my over-sensitive taste buds is in something like a Mexican casserole (shredded turkey added to a sauce made of tomatoes, onions, garlic and lots of spices like cumin and chili powder, then layered with cheese and corn tortillas).

    But we didn’t host Thanksgiving this year and so have no leftover turkey. Dinner tonight would’ve qualified for your challenge (one of our chickens, twice-baked potatoes from our garden potatoes, maquechoux frozen this summer), but most of our meals do, I guess.

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

  9. Marcia on December 4, 2011 at 11:48 pm

    My favorite leftover turkey meal is still turkey pot pie.

    I find Dark Days so inspiring, especially after watching the documentary FOOD Inc left chills down my back and bitter outrage in my mouth. Has anyone else seen it?

    Reply to Marcia's comment

    • Susy on December 5, 2011 at 9:40 am

      Yes I saw Food Inc a while ago. I wasn’t as outraged since I was already on the path of local eating because I had learned most of what the included via other documentaries, reading & other sources. It is an eye opening movie for sure!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  10. Melissa on December 5, 2011 at 9:20 am

    I made turkey tetrazzini like I do every year, but I also made some Turkey enchiladas! They were amazing– better than my regular chicken recipe!

    Reply to Melissa's comment

    • Susy on December 5, 2011 at 9:48 am

      Sounds really great, reminds me to make enchiladas someday soon!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  11. Sheila on December 6, 2011 at 7:26 am

    I really enjoy your blog. I made the potato soup last night and it was a big hit. I think the ham stock added a nice layer of flavor. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

    Reply to Sheila's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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