When I was a kid, I had a dog named Schultz. He wasn’t a very friendly dog, but he was pretty cute for a half schnauzer, quarter poodle, quarter scotty mutt. Whenever someone asked what kind of dog he was, Dad would deadpan “he’s a Polish poodle”. No one ever laughed but Dad got some funny looks. (Editor’s note: Not sure if this defames Polish people, the dog was cute and smart? Just in case, Dad sends his apologies. This was long before political correctness.)
After each Thanksgiving and Christmas, my Mom used to make turkey soup with the leftovers. She’d boil down the turkey carcass and throw in all the remaining bits of meat and parts that we had refused to eat. Even though the soup smelled somewhat tempting while Mom was cooking, it wasn’t all that tasty. The rest of the family usually found excuses to eat leftover pie instead and let Mom have the soup to herself. Schultz, though, would go crazy over the smell of the turkey soup. Tired of finishing the soup all alone, one year Mom decided to add some of the soup broth to the dog’s plain, dry kibble pellets. Schultz was generally indifferent about the dry food, but with the added broth he scarfed it up.
My Mom always enjoyed trying out new food on us and she saw improving the dog’s food as a similar challenge. She took the remaining turkey soup broth and added more turkey skin, giblets, and who knows what else. For the finishing touch, she poured in half a bag of dog food while the soup cooled. The dog food swelled to three times its normal size and became soft and flavorful instead of dry, crunchy, and unappealing.
When the unholy mixture had cooled, Mom gave Schultz a bowlful. Needless to say, it was like feeding prime rib to someone who’s only ever eaten, well, dog food. Mom named the creation “Recipe” and it became an annual treat for both Schultz and Mom.
The dog left us about the time that I went off to the University of Florida. After Thanksgiving, the first year I came home, Mom was in the kitchen cooking “recipe” again. I asked Mom if she had gone mental or was just planning to feed the neighbor’s dogs. She replied, “No, it’s for us. I’ve modified the recipe for human consumption. I’m adding lots of new stuff to it, with yellow rice and Jiffy mix dumplings to replace the dog food.” My father and I exchanged looks of unmitigated terror.
When she finished cooking, the final product was a yellow/brown concoction with three inch white dumplings floating on top. Mom spooned us up each a bowl. She seemed pretty pleased with it and dug in with gusto. Dad and I just stared at it, unconvinced. I stalled by asking, “Um, so what are these blobs in the soup?”. Before Mom could open her mouth, Dad quickly answered, “they’re UFOs, unidentified floating objects”.
Mom gave us both “the look”. Dad and I decided that we were more scared of Mom than the soup, so we tasted it cautiously. “Hmm”, we agreed, “good, but it needs something…something hot”. Dad quickly dispatched me to the pantry for the Korean chili sauce that we saved for dire circumstances. Two shots of hot chili sauce later, it wasn’t dog food and it wasn’t half bad. We dubbed it UFO soup and it became a staple of our post holiday feasts.
My Mom’s gone now, but Annie has carried on the tradition of UFO soup. To her credit, she has not tried to add tofu, soy sauce, or other exotic ingredients to the UFO “Recipe”.
Turkey carcass, bits of meat and other leftover bits
1 onion, chopped
3 or 4 carrots, chopped
3 or 4 celery stalks, chopped
1 Package of yellow rice w/ seasoning (e.g Mahatma)
Jiffy baking mix
Korean hot chili sauce (optional)
Boil carcass and leftover turkey bits to make a stock. Cool and remove bones, skin, fat.
Bring stock to boil, add onions, carrots, celery, and yellow rice. Cook per time listed on
yellow rice pkg. Follow recipe on Jiffy mix pkg to make dumplings. Drop by spoonfuls onto
the top of the stew. Wait 1 minute then cover until allotted time has expired.
Serve and add hot sauce to taste (more is better).