When you’re looking for a tasty way to use your leftover Thanksgiving turkey, turn to this budget-friendly Turkey Soup recipe! It stretches your leftover turkey meat to feed a crowd. Plus, if you’ve held onto the turkey after carving it, you can toss the bones in too.
Thanksgiving leftovers are such A Big Deal in our family, on Thanksgiving we cook two turkeys, one for the dinner and one for the leftovers (see How to Cook a Turkey for the best-ever roast turkey recipe).
This is rather over the top of us—if you want a more reasonable amount of leftovers, use this easy guide to How Much Turkey Per Person to plan for them in advance (or make Air Fryer Turkey Breast on the side).
Whether you do it on purpose or accidentally end up with too much leftover turkey meat, this easy turkey soup recipe is a perfect way to use it (check out this list of Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Recipes for more ideas).
I also love turkey soup because if you have a lesser amount of leftovers, turkey soup is an excellent way to stretch them.
How to Make Turkey Soup
This savory turkey soup recipe works well with or without the turkey carcass.
If you make turkey soup without the carcass, it won’t be *as* rich, but as long as you purchase good-quality chicken stock or turkey stock, your soup will still be scrumptious.
- Brown Rice. As the rice cooks, its starches break down, helping make the soup creamy. It’s also a fantastic way to cook a big, hearty meal at a budget price. Brown rice is pleasantly nutty and adds filling fiber and nutrients.
If you are looking to really stretch this recipe for a crowd, or want a thicker soup, up the amount of rice to 1 full cup.
- Veggies. Aromatic vegetables slowly sautéed down are the critical way to start any soup, this one included! I chose the classic mirepoix mix of carrots, celery, onion, and garlic, which give flavor and umph of the dish. Additionally, spinach and peas are added to the soup for further complexity and to pack even more nutrients like potassium, calcium, and vitamin C in one bowl.
- Leftover Turkey. The reason for the soup and how to keep your Thanksgiving meal going after the holiday! And hello protein, this soup will fill you up.
- Broth. I called for chicken broth, but turkey or vegetable broth may also be used. Stock will give the soup even more flavor.
- Lemon Juice. Brings all the flavors to life.
- Herbs. Oregano is sautéed with the veggies to bring more depth and warmth, and fresh herbs like parsley or thyme finish off the soup with one last pop of flavor.
- Leftover Turkey Carcass. The bones can have a second life! Simmering the turkey carcass in the soup is an optional method to thicken turkey soup and deepen its flavor.
- Sauté onion, carrot, and celery, then stir in garlic.
- Whisk in the leftover turkey, rice, seasonings, broth, and water.
- Cover, bring soup to boil on stove, and then simmer with lid ajar. Cook until rice tender.
- Stir in lemon juice, spinach, peas, and parsley. Cover and let sit off the heat for 5 minutes. Stir, adjust salt to taste. ENJOY!
- To Store. Put leftover turkey soup in the fridge within 2 hours of cooling. Refrigerate in airtight container for up to 4 days.
- To Reheat. Rewarm leftovers in a large pot on the stovetop on in the microwave.
- To Freeze. Turkey soup can be frozen in airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
I love freezing soups in Ziplock bags laid flat to freeze. Saves precious freezer space and keeps your storage containers available for other meals!
Meal Prep Tip
Most healthy soups, including this leftover turkey soup recipe, do have some upfront prep time with chopping all the veggies. This can be done the day before. Keep chopped vegetables in fridge prior to cooking
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Dutch Oven. A large dutch oven i one of my favorite items in my kitchen, and I know it will last a lifetime.
- Ladle. My favorite ladle for serving up soups and stews.
- Soup Sack. For holding and then removing the carcass in soup, if you are choosing to use it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Certainly! I’d follow my Crockpot Chicken and Rice Soup (omit the chicken), then stir the shredded turkey at the end.
You can absolutely make turkey noodle soup! Swap shredded turkey for the shredded chicken in this Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup. It’s great with egg noodles.
Stock, made with bones, is thicker and more flavorful than broth, and will result in a more robust soup. If you make the turkey soup without a carcass, use stock, not broth in its place if possible.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 4 medium carrots cut into 1/2-inch coins (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 3 stalks celery cut into 1/2-inch slices (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 6 cloves garlic minced (about 2 tablespoons)
- 2 to 3 cups leftover cooked shredded turkey or shredded chicken; see notes if you’d like to use your turkey carcass
- 3/4 cup long grain brown rice* rinsed and drained
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt plus additional to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 32 ounces (4 cups) low sodium chicken broth, or vegetable or turkey broth
- 4 cups water
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 5 ounces baby spinach
- 1 1/2 cups frozen peas no need to thaw
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
- In Dutch oven or similar large, sturdy soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to medium-low, and allow the veggies to cook for another 5 minutes. Uncover the pot and stir in the garlic, cooking until very fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Stir in the shredded turkey, rice, salt, pepper, oregano, broth, and water. Cover the pot and turn the heat to high (covering helps the water boil more quickly). Once the soup begins to boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, adjust the lid so it is slightly ajar, and let cook until the rice is tender, about 35 to 40 minutes. Stir the soup every 10 to 15 minutes, scraping a wooden spoon or spatula along the bottom to prevent the rice from sticking. Remove from the heat.
- Stir in the lemon juice, spinach, peas, and parsley. Cover the pot and let sit off the heat for 5 minutes to allow the spinach to wilt.
- Stir the soup and adjust the salt to taste (I added 1/2 teaspoon, but this will depend upon your broth and the saltiness of your turkey). Enjoy warm.
*If you are looking to really stretch this recipe for a crowd or want a thicker soup, up the amount of rice to 1 full cup.
To use your turkey carcass: Place your turkey carcass into a soup mesh bag and add to the soup at the end of Step 2, pushing it into the center of the soup so it is covered by liquid. Once soup is done simmering, right before Step 3, carefully use kitchen tongs to remove the mesh bag of turkey carcass from the soup & discard.
TO STORE: Refrigerate for 2 to 3 days; if your turkey is already a few days old, eat the soup within 1 to 2 days.
TO REHEAT: The rice in the soup will absorb liquid as it sits. When reheating, add more broth or water to thin as needed; add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and pinch of salt to wake it back up.
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