ISO: fabulous soft Thanksgiving food
November 24, 2013 3:10 PM   Subscribe

My sister just had thyroid surgery that did not go entirely as planned; she is getting better, but is very hoarse and having some difficulty swallowing. We are very hopeful that this is temporary, but it will certainly put a crimp in her Thanksgiving.

So, Mefites, hope me...I am looking for comforting Thanksgiving-appropriate dishes that we can enjoy with her. I really enjoy cooking, but am working thru Wed, so can only do prep Wed night/some Thurs am. Oven at parents' house will be thoroughly occupied by turkey, so stovetop cooking is best.

Another wrinkle: even when healthy she is Picky. Nothing too spicy (I can't over-emphasize how much her definition of spicy and mine diverge; nothing with more heat than black pepper), no cilantro (not usually a component in Thanksgiving, so that's not too hard), etc. Totally bland is not necessary; recently she asked for my recipe for mango salsa and really enoyed it (sans cilantro). Generally she is a big fan of the Thanksgiving offerings: turkey (not clear if this will be possible), mashed potatoes with gravy (will be ok, and encouraged), and such.

I am looking for soft/purée consistency (or easily chewable) food, servable at room temp/lukewarm. I'm thinking about autumnal soups (immersion blended: squash/apple? Cream of something delicious?), pudding type desserts, maybe soft veggie sides. Realistically I will make 1-2 things.

So, I am open to inspiration! Assume reasonable home cook skills, access to typical grocery store (nothing I couldn't find at whole foods), recipes scalable to 5-8 people. Thanks!
posted by maryrussell to Food & Drink (20 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Apple crisp, at least the way I make it, is very soft -- even the crumbly topping gets kinda soggy if you mix it up.

Pumpkin pie filling is delicious sans crust.

Mashed or pureed sweet potatoes, with or without marshmallows.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 3:24 PM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Pumpkin Soup
posted by dinger at 3:25 PM on November 24, 2013

If she liked the mango salsa, how about good old cranberry orange relish? It was a Thanksgiving staple when I was a kid, but maybe she's never tried it.
posted by Gotanda at 3:26 PM on November 24, 2013

Bread pudding might work.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:27 PM on November 24, 2013

This sweet potato-coconut pie is my Thanksgiving standby - soft and creamy and cool and wonderful.

Butternut squash soup is also amazing this time of year.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 3:28 PM on November 24, 2013

Mashed potatoes with gravy, pureed butternut squash (the way I make and eat it anyway), and stuffing--not from the top, crispy bits, but underneath where it's softer and more moist. Followed by inside of pumpkin pie and/or apple pie. Yum! Oh, and while cranberry sauce is pretty squishy, the level of acid may still be uncomfortable for her.
posted by primate moon at 3:30 PM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is a day after suggestion, but how about a turkey porridge? That way your sister can get some of the Thanksgiving turkey flavor in an easy to swallow form.
posted by spamandkimchi at 3:31 PM on November 24, 2013

I had my wisdom teeth taken out and put roast beef, mashed potatoes, and gravy in the blender to make a warm, yummy drink that I drank with a straw. It wasn't pretty to look at, but it was soooo good.
posted by lorisr at 3:48 PM on November 24, 2013

Seems like you are on the right track. I also second the squash/pumpkin soup idea that was already mentioned. Personally, I would recommend to make the soup extra rich by adding a dollop of creme fraiche, parsley (or other herb), grated Parmesan and pan-roasted pumpkin seeds (possibly chopped up, so easier to swallow).
If you can find red kuri squash, I recommend it - has a rich flavor, sweet and nut-like, you don't need to peel it, the skin gets soft and can be easily blended.

For dessert you might prepare apple sauce and maybe add some seasonal spices. If you want to make it more themed, you could bake a few tiny "cookies" from pie crust to go with it. They would be optional, if it turns out that chewing and swallowing is too hard. Soup and apple sauce would still work.
posted by travelwithcats at 3:50 PM on November 24, 2013

I have asked this question, myself, and referred to it again when Mom had throat cancer surgery.

Many cooked vegetables, notably broccoli, asparagus, squash, spinach, can be made into creamed soup versions. Make a roux with butter or olive oil and flour, cooking over med-low heat until golden, add stock, stirring a lot to prevent lumps, add to cooked vegetable of choice, puree in blender of processor. Best soup I ever made was a puree of creamed onions with parmesan, turkey stock, and broccoli, all leftover from T-day.

Add turkey or chicken broth to stuffing to make it easier to manage.

Cranberry ice - 1 can cran jelly, 1/2 can frozen limeade, juice of 2 limes, 1 1/2 c. water (all to taste), bended in blender or processor, then freeze it in a metal pan. Every hour or so, mash it thoroughly with a fork to prevent the ice crystals from getting too large. Big fave at my house. (it's versatile - you can substitute 1/2 can cran-raspberry juice, but still add the fresh lime)

I'm not a fan of canned pie filling. Peel and core a couple of apples, maybe a granny smith and a mac, add brown sugar, a squirt of lemon juice, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and bake in the microwave or oven until done. I bake apple pies for nearly an hour because I overfill them and like the apples well done, but this is a smaller amount. Make pumpkin pie - I've made it without a crust in a ramekin when I had too much filling for the crust, or she can leave the crust. serve with ice cream.

Definitely save the turkey carcass and make broth - just put everything, bones and skin - in a big pot with a bunch of water. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer for at least an hour, 2 is better. Turkey carcass is large, so mash with a potato masher after a bit, to break it up. Add water to keep the bones mostly covered. Then strain & refrigerate. Once it's cold, you can remove the fat if there's a lot. It's delicious by itself, or as the basis for soup.

Risotto - saute arborio rice in some butter or olive oil. Then add stock and white wine 1/2 cup at a time, stirring a lot until the rice is really done. You can vary risotto by adding mushrooms, butternut squash, and many other variations. People get a bit mental about using the exact type of rice, and stirring constantly, etc., but it's still pretty darn good if you aren't quite that fussy. Arborio rice is better, but ordinary rice works. Add extra broth as needed to make it easy to swallow.

Chicken-roasted carrots. It works better with regular size carrots. Put carrots, good chicken or turkey stock, and a little butter in a baking dish, uncovered. Roast at 350 or so until the carrots are tender and browned and the liquid is evaporated. We roasted a turkey breast and used big carrots to keep it out of the pan juices because we didn't have a roaster. A fight nearly broke out over the carrots, they were so good.

Macaroni & cheese is probably soft enough, and is good lukewarm. Just make sure she has a beverage, as it may be a bit sticky for her tender throat.
posted by theora55 at 3:51 PM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

You could Nutraloaf the whole meal for her.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 4:22 PM on November 24, 2013

Sweet potato and carrot puree - so good, we have it every Thanksgiving.
posted by leitmotif at 4:35 PM on November 24, 2013

Cauliflower parsnip carrot purée.
posted by ms_rasclark at 4:51 PM on November 24, 2013

I just had America's Test Kitchen's Broccoli-Cheese soup and Martha Stewart's popovers (soft and eggy on the inside!) for dinner. Awesome.
posted by oflinkey at 5:19 PM on November 24, 2013

Cream of turkey soup.
posted by brujita at 5:24 PM on November 24, 2013

Riffing on what I made for a Thanksgiving party this weekend: seconding pumpkin pie, baked without the crust. Corn pudding (perhaps without the crispy onions). Fennel and apple soup. Sweet potato casserole, without the pecans in the topping.

Hope your sister feels better soon!
posted by rebekah at 5:55 PM on November 24, 2013

Hubby and I had a mini Thanksgiving last night since I will be gone for the holiday. It was kick butt delicious and the mashed potatoes and gravy were the best. If you can get your hands on this (refrigerated section), they are to die for.

Better than my mommas! Shhhh - don't tell her that.
posted by michellenoel at 6:26 PM on November 24, 2013

The very best sweet potatoes are the easiest: wash the yams. Wrap up (together, no need to do it individually) in foil. Bake for a LONG time, like two hours plus. Forget about them and do something else for a few hours. When you remember, and they're cool, slip off the skins and dump the squishy-roasted flesh into a bowl and mash up with some orange juice concentrate or lemon juice, salt, and a bit of vanilla. If you want a smooth puree, do this step in the food processor, but the yams will be squishy enough that a fork should be plenty.

(I honestly do not understand why any recipes for sweet potatoes involve boiling them when long roasting is both easier and 10x better.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:26 PM on November 24, 2013

Corn pudding!!!
posted by CarolynG at 7:27 PM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

With the turkey leftovers, you could probably make some turkey congee.

Also, egg nog. It may not be in the stores yet, but extremely yummy!
posted by spinifex23 at 10:08 PM on November 24, 2013

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