"Holiday Turkey Soup in a ceramic bowl on a cream tile background"

How to Make the Best Holiday Turkey Soup: A Step-by-Step Guide

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How to Make the Best Holiday Turkey Soup: A Step-by-Step Guide

This Holiday turkey soup is the best way to make the most of Thanksgiving leftovers. Made with a rich broth, tender turkey, fresh vegetables, and noodles, it’s comforting and easy to make!

Looking for a delicious way to use up those holiday leftovers? Look only as far as our step-by-step guide to making the best holiday turkey soup. This comforting and nourishing soup is the perfect way to savor the season’s flavors while creating a meal that the whole family will love.

This guide will walk you through transforming your leftover turkey into a hearty and flavorful soup. We’ll cover everything from preparing the broth to adding the perfect blend of herbs and vegetables. With our easy-to-follow instructions, even novice cooks can whip up a pot of delicious homemade turkey soup.

Whether you’re looking to warm up on a cold winter day or simply searching for a creative way to use those Thanksgiving or Christmas leftovers, our holiday turkey soup recipe will impress. So grab your apron, and let’s get cooking!

"Holiday Turkey Soup in a ceramic bowl on tile counter"
Holiday Turkey Soup

The critical ingredients for a flavorful holiday turkey soup

Turkey soup has long been a favorite dish during the holiday season. After the big feast, when there’s often an abundance of leftover turkey, making soup is a great way to utilize those leftovers and create a delicious and comforting meal. The rich flavors of the turkey combined with the aromatic herbs and vegetables make for a truly satisfying dish.

Not only is turkey carcass soup a great way to use up leftovers, but it’s also a versatile dish that can be customized to suit your taste preferences. Whether you prefer a hearty and chunky soup or a smooth and creamy one, holiday turkey soup has endless possibilities.


"Pink peas, onion and spices for soup pot"
Pink peas, onion, and spices for soup


Step 1: Preparing the turkey carcass

You’ll need key ingredients to make the best holiday turkey soup. First and foremost, you’ll need the leftover turkey carcass. This will serve as the base for your flavorful broth. Remove excess meat from the carcass and set it aside for later use.

In addition to the turkey carcass, you’ll need a variety of vegetables and herbs to enhance the flavor of your soup. Some popular choices include carrots, onion, garlic, bay leaf, and thyme. These ingredients not only add depth of flavor but also provide essential nutrients.

Lastly, remember to have some salt and pepper on hand to season your soup to taste. You can add other seasonings, such as bay leaves, parsley, or rosemary, for added flavor.

"Carrots, potatoes and cabbage for soup pot"
Carrots, potatoes and cabbage

Step 2: Making the turkey broth

The first step in making holiday turkey soup is preparing the turkey carcass. Start by removing excess meat from the carcass and set it aside for later use. Then, break the carcass into smaller pieces to make it easier to fit into your stockpot.

Once the carcass is broken down, place it in a large stockpot and cover it with water. The water should be enough to submerge the carcass fully. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for about 1-2 hours. This will allow the flavors from the turkey bones to infuse into the broth.

Step 3: Adding vegetables and seasonings

After simmering the turkey carcass for a couple of hours, it’s time to strain the broth. Carefully remove the carcass, allowing any excess broth to drain back into the pot. Set the carcass aside to cool.

Next, place a fine-mesh strainer over a large bowl or another pot. Slowly pour the broth through the strainer, catching any bones or debris. This will ensure your broth is smooth and free from unwanted bits.

Once the broth is strained, return it to the pot and discard any bones or debris caught by the filter. You can add the reserved turkey meat to the pot if you prefer a heartier soup with chunks of meat.

"Holiday turkey soup broth"
Holiday turkey soup

Step 4: Cooking the soup

With the turkey broth ready, it’s time to add the vegetables and seasonings that will give your soup its delicious flavor. Start by chopping the carrots, celery, and onion into small, bite-sized pieces. Mince the garlic cloves and set aside.

In a separate pan, heat some olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped vegetables and minced garlic to the pan and sauté until they become tender and fragrant. This will help to release their natural flavors and enhance the overall taste of your soup.

Once the vegetables are sautéed, transfer them to the pot with the turkey broth. Stir well to combine, then add the desired seasonings. You can get creative and add your favorite herbs and spices here. The choice is yours: thyme, bay leaves, parsley, or rosemary.

Step 5: Serving and garnishing the soup

Now that all the ingredients are in the pot, it’s time to cook the soup. Bring the pot to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low and let it cook for about 30-45 minutes. This will allow the flavors to meld together and the vegetables to become tender.

While the soup is cooking, taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. Add salt and pepper to taste; if desired, add a squeeze of lemon juice or a splash of vinegar to brighten the flavors.

"Johnny Cake on a platter"
Johnny Cake muffins

Tips for customizing your turkey soup

Once the soup is perfect, it’s time to serve and garnish. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with freshly chopped herbs such as parsley or cilantro. You can also add a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt for added creaminess. Serve the soup hot with crusty bread or rolls on the side for a complete meal.

Can you substitute the turkey?

You can and should make this soup beyond just the holiday season. Cooked and shredded or diced chicken can be substituted. Rotisserie chicken works particularly well.

Recipe tips and notes

  • I’ve suggested using pasta as the starch in this soup, but couscous is another excellent option. Choose Israeli (pearl) couscous! Here is a great recipe to try: Leftover Turkey Soup Recipe
  • To keep it gluten-free, use rice. White rice will work fine, but brown rice adds the most flavor and texture. Or try hearty wild rice for a nutty twist!
  • To use leftover roast vegetables from your turkey dinner, dice them to be the same size as the other vegetables and add them to your soup with approximately five minutes left. This gives just enough time for them to be heated through.
  • Even though this recipe is designed for leftover turkey, the same recipe can be used for leftover roast chicken.

Conclusion and final thoughts

While our step-by-step guide provides a delicious and foolproof recipe for holiday turkey soup, don’t hesitate to get creative and customize it to suit your tastes. Here are a few tips to help you make the soup your own:

  1. Add additional vegetables: Feel free to add your favorite vegetables to the soup. Some popular choices include potatoes, corn, peas, or even spinach.
  2. Make it creamy: If you prefer a creamy soup, add a splash of heavy cream or coconut milk towards the end of cooking. This will give your soup a rich and velvety texture.
  3. Spice it up: Add some scotch bonnet or a diced jalapeno pepper to the soup if you like a bit of heat. This will give it a nice kick and add some depth of flavor.
  4. Experiment with seasonings: Be bold and experiment with different herbs and spices. For a unique twist, you can add dried herbs like oregano, basil, or even some curry powder.

Holiday Turkey Soup

Making homemade turkey soup after your Christmas dinner is super easy and a delicious way to use all the leftovers. This is the basic, easy homemade turkey soup recipe you remember your mom making. It's delicious!
  • 3 cups leftover cooked turkey, shredded or chopped
  • 8 cups turkey or chicken broth
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 3 potatoes, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup pink peas
  • 2 cups cabbage, chopped
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 4 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp complete seasoning
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup cooked pasta or rice (optional)
Step 1
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add diced onions and carrots.
Step 2
Sauté for 5-7 minutes until vegetables are tender.
Step 3
Add minced garlic, dried thyme, and bay leaf. Stir and cook for another minute until fragrant.
Step 4
Pour in the turkey or chicken broth and bring the mixture to a boil.
Step 5
Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and add the leftover cooked turkey to the pot. Simmer for 15-20 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
Step 6
Add the vegetables to the soup. If you’d like to add cooked pasta or rice, this is the time to include it. Simmer for an additional 5-10 minutes until everything is heated through.
Step 7
Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.
Step 8
Remove the bay leaf before serving.
Step 9
Ladle the hot turkey soup into bowls and enjoy your comforting holiday meal!

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