A healthy, flavorful way to use leftover duck
Duck (whether roasted or pan seared) is seriously good stuff. So if you find yourself with leftovers, you don’t want to waste them.
And because duck has such deep flavor, even a little goes a long way. Which makes it perfect for soup.
Especially with lentils—they’re magic when combined with duck. Add some kale, and you have an exceptionally nutritious (and tasty) dish.
Best of all? Making this dish is easy as, well, duck soup.
Recipe: Duck, Lentil, and Kale Soup
For this soup, you can use leftover roast duck or pan-seared duck breast (magret). If you happen to have a whole roast duck, you can use its carcass for making duck stock (see Notes).
Prep time for this recipe is about 20 minutes. Cooking time adds another 30 minutes.
This recipe serves about 4. Leftovers freeze well.
- 1 medium onion
- 2 carrots
- 2 to 4 cloves of garlic (to taste)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- salt to taste (about ½ teaspoon kosher salt; but see Notes)
- 1 cup dried lentils
- ~8 ounces leftover cooked duck (or more if you have it—up to 16 ounces)
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste; optional)
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme (see Notes for substitutions)
- 8 cups water (or chicken or duck stock; see Notes)
- ½ pound kale
- additional salt to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Peel the onion and cut it into dice of about ½ inch. Set aside.
- Scrub and peel the carrots, then cut them into dice of ¼ to ½ inch. Set aside.
- Peel the garlic and mince it finely or cut it into thin slices. Set aside.
- Place a 4-quart stock pot or saucepan on medium stovetop heat. When the pan is hot, add the olive oil. When the oil is heated (it’ll shimmer; about 15 seconds), add the chopped onion and carrots. Season to taste with salt, then sauté the mixture until the onion is translucent (5 to 8 minutes).
- Meanwhile, pick over the lentils to remove any stones or grit, then rinse them clean. Chop the leftover duck into dice of ½ inch or so.
- When the onion is translucent (Step 4), add the minced garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Then add the red pepper flakes (if using) and dried thyme, and sauté for 15 seconds.
- Add the water (or stock), lentils, and leftover duck. Bring to a simmer, and cook for 20 minutes.
- While the soup is cooking, wash the kale and remove its stems. Chop the kale into pieces no larger than an inch or so.
- After the soup has cooked for 20 minutes (Step 7), add the kale. Cook for an additional 10 minutes, or a bit longer if the lentils need more time to become soft.
- Taste the soup, then add black pepper and additional salt if necessary. Serve and enjoy.
- You can cook the kale for more than 10 minutes if you wish (see Step 9). In fact, the soup will have slightly better flavor if you do. But be aware that kale’s bright green color will fade if you cook it longer.
- BTW, you don’t have to use kale in this dish. Any dark, leafy green would work. Chopped cabbage would also make an interesting substitute.
- Don't have leftover duck? You could substitute chicken or turkey (we suggest using the dark meat). But this dish is better with duck.
- Water alone makes a tasty soup, but stock does add considerable flavor. Chicken stock works fine in this recipe—and duck stock would be even better. If you have a carcass from a whole roast duck, you can make duck stock using the same general procedure we outline for making chicken stock in our post, Stock Excuses.
- For a thicker soup, use less water (or stock) than we specify. For a thinner soup, use more.
- We like to use dried thyme in this soup, but you can substitute another herb if you prefer. Fresh rosemary would be wonderful—use 2 or 3 teaspoons minced. (Dried rosemary is flavorless and we don’t recommend it.) Any other herb that sounds interesting to you would probably work, too.
- We use ordinary brown lentils for this soup. But you could substitute French green (Le Puy) lentils if you wish.
- As noted above, duck and lentils make a dynamite combo. But if you prefer, you could substitute cooked white beans for the lentils (use about 3 cups of cooked beans).
- We use kosher salt for cooking. Kosher salt has big flakes, so it doesn’t fill a measuring spoon as “tightly” as regular table salt. Hence, it’s less salty by volume. If you’re using regular table salt rather than kosher salt, use only about half as much as we suggest. But really, when it comes to salt (or black pepper), you should always season to your own taste.
Ducks in a Row
“Yummy soup,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Just ducky.”
“Yup, lentils play well in this dish,” I said. “Just like a duck takes to water.”
“I was a sitting duck for that comment,” said Mrs K R.
“So I better stop these puns before I need to duck and cover,” I said.
“Agreed,” said Mrs K R. “You don’t want to be a lame duck.”
Or a dead duck.
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