Turkey Soup from Leftovers

Make a simple, comforting soup from your turkey leftovers. The stock is a bit cloudy, not clear like a stock made from raw meat, but has good flavor.

For the turkey bone stock:

    Cooked turkey bones and skin leftover from your
    Roast Turkey, coarsely chopped
    1 onion, coarsely chopped
    2 carrots, coarsely chopped
    2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
    Any leftover Turkey Stock
    1 bay leaf
    1 tsp dried thyme or sprigs of fresh thyme
    1 bay leaf
    a tsp of black peppercorns
    1 T salt more or less

For the soup:

    2-4 T olive oil or a combo of oil and butter
    1 onion, diced
    1-2 carrots, diced
    2 celery stalks, diced
    1-2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
    The strained turkey bone stock (above)
    1/2-1 tsp dried thyme
    2 T or so fresh parsley, chopped
    Leftover roast turkey meat, chopped
    Something starchy such as 1/4 lb fettuccini or noodles, 1/2 cup rice, a couple of chopped small white potatoes, a cup of cooked cannellini or other beans, or croutons or chunks of leftover coarse Italian bread (optional)
    Extra vegetables such as 1/2 c frozen tiny peas or corn, fresh chopped green beans, leftover cooked vegetables, or any other vegetables you have in your refrigerator (optional)
    Fresh parsley (optional)
    Any leftover turkey gravy (optional)
    A squeeze of fresh lemon juice (optional)
    A bit of cream or a dollop of sour cream (optional)

Make the turkey bone stock:

Pick off any meat remaining on the turkey carcass and set aside to add to the soup later. Put the remaining bones and all the other stock ingredients into a large soup pot. Add enough leftover Turkey Stock (from before you roasted your turkey) and/or water to cover by 1-2 inches. Bring to a simmer and simmer, partially covered, for an hour or two.

Strain the stock through a colander or sieve into a large bowl or pan. Squeeze the remaining veggies lightly to get out as much liquid as you can without squishing them. Discard the bones, veggies, and other solids (or feed some of the meat to your dog, if that’s allowed)

If you’re not making a soup with this stock right away, you can freeze it for later.

Make the soup:

Heat the oil or oil/butter combo over medium heat in a large pot. Add the chopped onions, carrots, and celery and stir until onions are translucent and veggies are starting to brown. If you are adding garlic, add it after the onions, etc have cooked a few minutes. Don’t let the oil/butter burn. Reduce the heat if the veggies are browning too fast.

Add 4 or more cups of turkey bone stock (the amount depends on how much soup you want to end up with, how many additional ingredients or how much leftover turkey you have to add, etc – you can always add more stock or if you underestimate the amount of liquid you will need) and bring to a simmer. If you’re adding fresh vegetables such as green beans, add them now. If you are adding rice, add it now. Simmer for 20-30 minutes. If you are adding pasta, potatoes, cooked dry beans, or frozen veggies, add them after the soup has simmered for about 10 minutes. Simmer an additional 10-15 minutes until these ingredients are almost tender. Add the leftover turkey meat, and any leftover cooked vegetables and gravy, and bring back to the simmer, cooking only until the turkey is hot, about 5-10 minutes. (If you cook it more than this, the leftover turkey will disintegrate into shreds, which is still tasty, but not as aesthetically pleasing.) if you want to add a bit of creaminess to the soup, add a half cup or so of heavy cream with the meat.

Taste the soup for salt and pepper and add more if necessary. Add a tablespoon or so of freshly chopped parsley if you have it and/or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. If you are using the sour cream, add a small dollop to each bowl. if you are serving the soup with croutons or bread chunks, add those at the table.


This is a loosey-goosey soup. The basic soup without all the optional ingredients is very soothing, but you can add pretty much anything to it and can vary the proportions depending on what you have around. I wouldn’t add all these optional ingredients. if you’re adding a starchy ingredient, just use one. You can’t really go wrong with adding extra veggies, but think about whether they will complement each other. For any optional ingredient, be sure you allow time for it to cook through without getting mushy. I’d avoid really strong veggies like brussell sprouts or broccoli. You can add leftover stuffing, but it gives an unsatisfactory texture to the soup that I don’t like.

I sometimes like to add a lot of fettuccini so that it turns out less like turkey noodle soup and more like turkey soupy noodles.

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