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Collard Greens and Smoked Turkey Soup

(recipe, Carrie Floyd)

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When I saw a recipe for Collard Greens Soup in the Lee Brothers' book [%amazonProductLink asin=0307453596 "Simple Fresh Southern"], I knew I had to try it; I love collard greens and the broth that results from cooking them. Here's my variation, which substitutes smoked turkey for bacon, red beans for white, and adds more vegetables to the mix. For a full-meal deal, I serve the soup over a scoop of cooked brown rice and place a bottle of Crystal hot sauce on the table for anyone who wants more spice.


  1. 1 smoked turkey leg (see Note)
  2. 1½ cups red beans, presoaked and drained
  3. 1 bay leaf
  4. 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  5. 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  6. 2 celery stalks, chopped
  7. 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  8. 1 large turnip, peeled and chopped into small cubes
  9. 4 garlic cloves, minced
  10. 1½ to 2 lb. collard greens (1 to 2 bunches), ribs removed and leaves coarsely chopped
  11. 2 Tbsp. white-wine vinegar
  12. ½ tsp. red-pepper flakes
  13. Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  14. 1 qt. Homemade Veggie Bouillon, or vegetable or chicken broth
  15. Salt
  16. Cooked brown rice for serving (optional)
  17. Hot sauce for serving (optional)


  1. In a large soup pot, place the turkey leg, red beans, and bay leaf; add enough water to cover the beans by a couple of inches. Cover and bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook until the beans are tender. Remove the turkey leg to a plate to cool.
  2. In another large pot, heat the olive oil, then sauté the onion, celery, carrots, and turnip, stirring, until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic, stir, then add about a third of the chopped collard greens. Continue adding the greens, a handful at a time, turning them until they wilt before adding another handful.
  3. Once the collards are wilted, which will take about 5 minutes, add the vinegar, red-pepper flakes, and black pepper. Add the vegetable broth, cooked red beans, and as much of the bean cooking liquid as you like — soup or stew?! Cover the pot, bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer.
  4. Meanwhile, strip as much meat as you can from the turkey leg and add it to the pot.
  5. Cook the soup (or stew) until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Serve immediately, with brown rice and hot sauce if you wish.


I'm lucky to have a butcher in town that sells smoked turkey legs; if you can't get hold of one of these, feel free to substitute a meaty ham hock.