Leftover turkey soup is a beloved Thanksgiving tradition. Turkey carcass, slowly simmered, makes a rich, flavorful broth.
Having a hot, comforting bowl of soup for a late dinner on Thanksgiving is something I look forward to every year. I admit it: We eat our Thanksgiving meal early partly to make sure we get to enjoy this tasty soup that same night!
This turkey soup is so rich and delicious. We always save the turkey carcass after carving, plus any skin we're not interested in eating, and often the wings too. Turkey bones with some attached meat and skin, slowly simmered over several hours, make a rich, flavorful broth. 🍲
The ingredients you'll need
Here's an overview of what you'll need to make this tasty soup. The exact measurements are included in the recipe card below.
What you'll need for the basic broth:
- Bones from a 10-12-lb. turkey. If some meat is still attached to the bones, that's even better and will make for a richer, more flavorful soup.
- Water: Enough to cover the bones.
- Seasonings: I like to use kosher salt, black pepper, dried thyme, and a bay leaf.
What you'll need for the soup:
- Olive oil: I love cooking with this delicious oil. But if you'd rather use an oil with a higher smoke point, you can use avocado oil instead. Another tasty option is to use butter or ghee.
- Vegetables: I use sliced carrots, sliced celery, and chopped onions.
- Cooked turkey meat: Either white or dark - both work, though I tend to use white. Be sure to remove the skin.
How to make a leftover turkey soup
It's so easy! Scroll down to the recipe card for detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
Simmer a turkey carcass in water with some spices for three hours, then strain the rich broth and discard the bones.
Cook some vegetables (onions, celery, and carrots) in olive oil or in butter.
Add the strained broth and diced cooked turkey meat, and cook just until heated through.
How to serve turkey soup
I usually serve it as a main-dish soup. So rather than serve cups of it as an appetizer, I serve generous bowls, and then it makes the perfect after-Thanksgiving dinner - relatively light, but flavorful and comforting.
Since this soup contains meat and vegetables, it makes a complete and very filling meal. But f you'd like to add something on the side, try thick slices of almond flour bread (great for dipping in the soup!), cornbread, or perhaps these tasty biscuits.
Variations and substiutions
I love this soup just as it is! But in case you'd like to change it up, here are a few ideas for varying the basic recipe:
- If you're out of turkey meat but still have some turkey stock, you can add these turkey meatballs.
- Serve the soup with condiments such as hot sauce and soy sauce (gluten-free if needed) in case anyone wants to add extra flavor to their soup.
- Change up your veggies. Small cauliflower florets work well, and you can also add a teaspoon of minced garlic when you cook the other vegetables.
How long can I keep leftovers?
Leftovers of this turkey soup keep well in the fridge, in an airtight container, for about 3 days. I reheat bowls of it in the microwave, covered, on 50% power.
You can also freeze individual portions in mugs. Seal their tops with a few layers of plastic wrap.
More leftover turkey recipes
I think most will agree that leftover meals are just as fun as the Thanksgiving meal itself! Here's a collection of leftover turkey recipes.
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Leftover Turkey Soup
For the basic broth:
- Bones from a 10-12-lb. turkey
- 3 quarts water
- 1 tablespoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
For the turkey soup:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup sliced carrots
- 1 cup sliced celery
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 2 cups cooked turkey breast skinless, diced (10 oz)
- Place the turkey carcass in a large stockpot and cover with cold water. Add the kosher salt, black pepper, thyme, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Skim the foam off the surface. Reduce the heat to medium-low so that the stock is at a gentle simmer. Cook, partially covered, for 3 hours.
- Remove the bones and the bay leaf and discard. Strain the stock through a strainer. Measure how much liquid you have - you should now have about 2 quarts of soup. If you have less, add enough water to get to 2 quarts. Wipe the stockpot clean with moist paper towels.
- In the clean stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, about 2 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender-crisp. You want the onions golden, not browned. If the bottom of the stockpot becomes too dry, add a splash of water.
- Skim the fat layer from the top of the broth if you wish, then add it back to the stockpot. Bring back to a simmer and cook just until heated through, about 5 more minutes.