Thanksgiving leftovers done right.
If I had to pick a favorite Thanksgiving leftovers recipe, turkey soup would probably win. Soup is always the right decision in fall and winter. But this turkey soup both uses lots of turkey meat, and puts the carcass to work as the base for an incredibly flavorful stock.
Add some wide egg noodles, season to taste, and you have a homemade turkey soup that makes a full meal — and possibly tastes even better than the Thanksgiving turkey itself.
You’ll also like these Thanksgiving leftovers recipes: Turkey Gumbo and Sweet Potato Pancakes
Recipe Notes: Thanksgiving Leftovers Turkey Soup
The nice thing about soup recipes, generally, is their adaptability to whatever you have on hand. This recipe is no different.
To begin, make this turkey soup in the general method of homemade chicken soup.
- Make a stock from the carcass, celery, carrots, onion, and aromatics.
- After the turkey stock has simmered for hours, strain the broth, then turn it into soup with fresh diced vegetables, the turkey meat, and seasoning to taste.
- From there, feel free to add in some extra “bonus” ingredients. I like the idea of adding wide egg noodles or rice for a more well-rounded bowl of soup. I like Pennsylvania Dutch brand egg noodles, but any will do.
- You could also stir in some shredded kale, green beans, or other vegetables still floating around your fridge. Roasted butternut squash comes to mind as well.
Other recipe tips for making a great turkey soup from your leftovers:
- Stock wants to cook for a while. Simmer this for a minimum of two hours, preferably longer. I like mine to go around five or six hours.
- To get a nice, clear stock, make sure the sediment stays on the bottom. First, simmer your stock; don’t let it go at a rolling boil, which will stir up lots of bits. Second, I never pour my stock through a strainer. I ladle it. This takes more time, but the stock stays nice and clear.
- Before you strain your stock, remove the carcass and vegetables as best you can. Scoop it out with a large strainer, tongs, or slotted spoons. I think a spider is a great tool for this, and it something any cook should have on hand.
Did you make this turkey soup recipe? How was it?
Homemade Turkey Soup
- 1 leftover turkey carcass, meat largely removed
- 2 medium yellow onions, divided
- 1 1/2 pounds carrots, divided
- 1 large head of celery, divided
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 large sprig fresh thyme
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves and tender stems, rough chopped, plus more to garnish
- 4 cups or so cooked turkey meat, pulled or cut into soup-sized chunks
- 8 ounces wide egg noodles, optional (cooked rice would work as well)
For the Turkey Stock
- Place as much turkey carcass as you can into a large stock pot. You will probably have to break it into pieces to shove it all in there.
- Rinse and halve one onion and add it to the pot, along with the thyme, bay leaves, 3 whole peeled and trimmed carrots, and 3 trimmed stalks of celery.PRO TIP: Leaving the onion skin on the onion will make the stock a deeper golden color.
- Add enough cold water to just barely cover the turkey, but make sure there is still an inch of space between the water and the rim of the pot. If part of the chicken is still not covered, that's ok. Bring just to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Let simmer, partially covered, for at least two hours, preferably about 5 or 6 hours.
- While the stock simmers, make use of the time to peel, trim, and dice the remaining carrots, celery, and onion that will go into the finished soup. Cut or pull your turkey meat into the rough size of a large dice. Set everything aside in the refrigerator.
- Using whatever variety of strainer, tongs, or slotted spoon you have available, remove the carcass, vegetables, and herbs from the stock and discard. Ladle the stock through a fine mesh strainer into another pot or large bowl. Rinse the original stock pot. Return the strained stock to the pot and put it back on the stove.
For the Soup
- Heat the strained stock to a low boil. Add the carrots, celery, and onion. Simmer until the vegetables have softened, about 10 to 15 minutes.
- While the vegetables are cooking in the soup, cook your rice or egg noodles.
- When the vegetables have softened, add the turkey meat. Stir, and allow the meat to warm through. Do not boil or you will continue to cook the already-cooked turkey meat. If you have any additional leftover vegetables for the soup, add them now.
- Taste for seasoning, and add salt and pepper. Add the fresh minced parsley. If the soup looks a little too chunky, feel free to add some water. Taste again for seasoning.TIP: Usually, I give exact amounts of salt. But here, the salinity of each person's stock will vary greatly depending on how much each turkey has been brined and so forth. For reference, however, I used the carcass of a dry-brined turkey, and ended up adding 1 tablespoon of kosher salt.
- Spoon some cooked rice or cooked egg noodles into the bottom of each bowl. Ladle soup on top and serve hot.