Have some turkey leftover from a big turkey feast? This Leftover Turkey Turkey Soup is the perfect thing to make. It’s fresh, wholesome, healthy and flavourful and comes together in no time at all with few and simple ingredients!
I’m sure we can all agree that one of the best parts of any Thanksgiving dinner is OBVIOUSLY the turkey. That is, of course, if you’ve never been under the curse of the dry turkey not knowing the difference a moist and juicy one makes. (If that is you, see this blog post to end the dry turkey spell forever!) I don’t know if it’s the Italian in me or just the way we grew up having Thanksgiving at my uncle’s with more food to feed a small village, but I, too, have the “go big or go home” mentality when it comes to any turkey feast.
No matter how many mouths I have to feed – and sometimes, it really is just the BF and I – I still find the need to get the biggest turkey on display. I know I can’t be the only one. I figure, if I’m making something that’s gonna have me slaving around the kitchen all morning, I’m gonna get more meals out of it than just one. And that, my friends, is what I like to call a win-win (or a win-win-win depending on how many meals you actually get out of it).
It’s definitely some sort of unwritten rule that turkey soup just haaaaas to follow a large turkey dinner. I mean, did you even Thanksgiving right if you don’t have enough turkey leftover to make soup with the next day?! I mean, you can’t not make broth with all the leftover turkey bones and carcass. Am I right? And that broth, IMHO, points to one thing and one thing only. Soup! Not to mention how the kitchen Gods seemingly align when you notice there are a handful of herbs that didn’t make it into the bird and a few carrots that were left unroasted.
This leftover turkey turkey soup is easily customizable and very forgiving in terms of what else you have leftover. Got a few extra potatoes that didn’t make it into the mash? Throw ’em in there. Some spinach that didn’t make it into the salad? Great in here, too. Whatever you have leftover, just make it a tradition to ensure there is enough turkey to make this soup. You’ll look more forward to it than the turkey dinner itself.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED TO MAKE THIS SATISFYING SOUP RECIPE
Fresh, wholesome and healthy ingredients are the name of the game when it comes to making leftover turkey soup from scratch. It’s so easy to throw together since I usually have all of the other ingredients on hand anyway, especially after a holiday feast. Let’s discuss the exact ingredients you’ll need to make this turkey soup in a little bit more detail down below:
- Leftover Turkey: The star of the show in this leftover turkey soup recipe! Adds flavour and substance and provides a lean and delicious source of protein. Both white and dark meat can be used in this recipe.
- Onions, Carrots and Celery: Provides a rich and savoury flavour to the base of the soup.
- Garlic: Adds flavour and freshness to this leftover turkey soup recipe. Therefore, fresh minced garlic works best. However, if all you have on hand is garlic powder, use 1/2 a teaspoon instead of the 2 fresh minced cloves.
- Broth: The flavourful liquid base of this turkey soup recipe. I like using the homemade broth made from boiling the carcass and bones of the turkey with some water and aromatics. However, you can use store bought if you can find it. If not, chicken broth, veggie broth or even water will do just fine.
- Herbs: Add additional layers of flavour to this leftover turkey turkey soup. I used rosemary, thyme and parsley since that’s what I had leftover from the bird. But you can use any fresh herbs you have on hand to make your soup more flavourful.
- Bay Leaf: Adds an Earthy, herbal flavour to the soup and balances out the flavours of the rest of the ingredients. PRO TIP: Don’t forget to remove the bay leaf from the soup before serving! It’s simply meant for an aromatic and is not to be eaten.
- Pasta: Adds heartiness, texture and nutrition to this turkey soup recipe. I used a regular ol’ rotini pasta. However, whatever kind of pasta you have on hand (or your favourite kind!) will work just fine for this recipe. You can even use rice instead, if you prefer.
- Spinach: For extra nutrition and added freshness to the soup. Also gives it some vibrancy and a nice pop of colour. I had some spinach leftover from my turkey feast so that’s what I used. However, you can use a different leafy green (such as chard or kale) instead if that’s what you have lying around. Or you can omit the fresh veggies completely, if you don’t have any on hand.
- Salt/Pepper: Of course! IMHO, you can’t have a good soup without a good sprinkling of salt and pepper. They add flavour and balance out the flavours from the rest of the ingredients.
- Parmesan Cheese Rind: One word: Umami. One of my favourite things to add to soups and stews! Gives them an extra boost of flavour. If you don’t have one on hand (get into the habit of freezing them!) then you can either omit it completely or top the final dish with some freshly grated parmesan, if desired.
- Butter: Adds flavour to the soup and used to sautée/soften up the veggies. You can use any kind of oil instead of butter, if you prefer.
HOW TO MAKE SOUP WITH LEFTOVER TURKEY (KEY TIPS)
You can find full instructions for how to make soup with leftover turkey in the recipe card down below, but here are a few quick tips to keep in mind:
- Scale the recipe up or down depending on how much turkey you have leftover. The recipe listed in the recipe card down below is a general guideline of what you need to make a hearty leftover turkey turkey soup. It is based off of having about 4 cups of shredded turkey leftover along with 8 cups of broth. Use your judgement and adjust all of the ingredients based on what you have leftover. EXTRA TIP: Prepare your ingredients in advance. Since the turkey is already cooked and ready to go, this is somewhat of a fast process. Having everything laid out and prepared not only ensures that the cooking process will be smoother and more efficient but it also gives you the opportunity to make adjustments to the quantities based on the ingredients you have on hand.
- Sauté the aromatics. While you may be tempted to skip this step, don’t! Sautéing the onions, carrots, celery and garlic at the beginning of the recipe is crucial. It releases their flavours and forms a flavorful base for the soup. EXTRA TIP: Ensure the veggies are in similar bite sized pieces so as not to overpower the other flavours in the soup. This will also help them soften/cook evenly and in the same amount of time.
- Simmer for flavour. Allow the soup to simmer on low heat for at least 20-30 minutes. This helps the flavours meld and develop, resulting in a richer and more delicious soup.
- Taste and adjust seasonings as you go. when adding salt and pepper, do so gradually as taste as you go. It’s easier to add more seasoning than to correct and oversalted soup.
- Add fresh vegetables at the right time. If you’re incorporating fresh vegetables like spinach or kale, add them toward the end of the cooking process. This ensures they stay vibrant and don’t overcook. I like to add them in right at the end then turn the heat off immediately and give the soup a few good stirs. The steam and heat will be enough to wilt and “cook” them.
- Don’t add the pasta or rice (if using) directly to the soup. Instead, if you’re adding rice or pasta, cook them separately then add them to individual bowls before serving. Overcooked pasta or rice can become mushy and ruin the texture and flavour of the soup.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
First and foremost, ensure you promptly refrigerate any leftover turkey. Store it in an airtight container where it’ll be good for up to 4 days. Therefore, it is best to make your leftover turkey soup within that time frame for safest and healthiest results.
If you don’t plan to use the leftover turkey within 4 days, you can freeze it for up to 6 months. Simply shred it into desired pieces and portion it away into airtight containers or ziploc freezer safe bags. Then, thaw it in the fridge overnight first or add it directly to the soup.
Good news! It’s not hard to add more flavour if your turkey soup turns out bland. The simplest way to do so is by adjusting the seasonings. Taste your soup and gradually add more salt and pepper until it reaches the desired level of seasoning. You can also experiment with different herbs and spices. In addition, a squeeze of lemon juice or a splash of vinegar can brighten up a bland soup as the acidity can balance out the flavour and make the soup more vibrant.
No, it’s not safe to leave turkey soup or any perishable food out at room temperature overnight. Bacteria can multiply rapidly in food left out of the fridge for an extended period of time, leading to the risk of foodborne illness.
If you have any leftover leftover turkey soup (lol), store it in an airtight container and keep it in the fridge for up to 4 days. Like many good soups, this one tastes even better the next day as the flavours have had more time to mingle and develop. You can also freeze this leftover turkey soup for up to 6 months.
- 8 cups Turkey Broth*
- 4 cups Leftover Turkey Meat, shredded
- 2 Carrots, chopped
- 2 Celery Stalks, chopped
- 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
- 1 White Onion, chopped
- 1 Bay Leaf
- Large handful of Fresh Herbs (parsley, thyme, rosemary)
- 2 large handfuls Spinach, optional
- 1 cup Pasta or Rice, optional
- Parmesan Cheese Rind, optional
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- 2 tbsp Butter
- In a large pot over medium heat, add the butter. Once melted, add the carrots, celery, garlic and onions. Sauté a few minutes, stirring frequently, until they start to soften.
- Add the broth, bay leaf, fresh herbs, cheese rind and salt and pepper to the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 20-30 minutes to allow the flavours to mingle and develop.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta (according to the package directions) in some boiling salted water. Drain, run under cold water and set aside until ready to use.
- Add the shredded turkey meat and spinach to the pot and give it a few good stirs until the turkey is heated through and the spinach is wilted. Taste and adjust for seasonings.
- Add the pasta to individual bowls then ladle in the turkey soup over top. Garnish each bowl with freshly grated parmesan cheese and more fresh chopped herbs, if desired.
I get the turkey broth from boiling the bones and carcass in water, herbs, spices and aromatics. However, you can also use chicken or veggies broth or just plain water for this recipe.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 298Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 108mgSodium: 1480mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 3gSugar: 3gProtein: 33g
Nutrition is only an estimate and calculated using Nutritionix.
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