Turkey Soup Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep: 30 min. Cook: 4 hours
Use up all those turkey leftovers, from the meat to the bones, in this comforting homemade turkey soup. 

Updated: Jan. 05, 2024

Next to the actual Thanksgiving dinner, soup made with the leftover turkey is one of the best parts of any holiday. This simple turkey soup recipe utilizes all the great flavor from the turkey carcass and meat plus additional vegetables, herbs and spices. A lighter way to enjoy the flavors of the holiday without the feast, it’s perfect for lunch or dinner, either on its own or with a green salad and crusty bread. This soup also freezes well, so you can enjoy it when you need a cozy fix weeks later. Here’s how to make homemade turkey soup.

Turkey Soup Recipe Ingredients

  • Leftover turkey: Once you’ve removed all of the meat for other turkey leftover recipes, use the carcass and other parts you don’t eat (giblets, neck, etc.) for this soup.
  • Chicken broth: Although you’re basically making a stock with the turkey carcass, adding chicken broth increases the flavor and adds richness to the soup. Use homemade or one of our favorite chicken broth brands.
  • Vegetables: The holy trinity of soup—onions, celery and carrots—can be prepped while you’re chopping vegetables for the main meal. Simply chop extra per the recipe, put them in a bag and they’ll be ready for soup the next day.
  • Rice: No need to precook the rice for this soup. Add the long-grain rice to the pot along with all of the other ingredients.
  • Herbs and spices: Poultry seasoning, onion powder and garlic powder are integral to this soup’s flavor. You can mix and match others to your taste, as well.

Directions

Step 1: Make a slow-cooked turkey stock

turkey carcass in hot boiling water in stockpotTMB Studio

In a stockpot, place the turkey carcass, water and broth. Bring it all to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for four to five hours.

Editor’s Tip: If the carcass is really large, simply break it up into smaller parts so it fits in the pot and water can cover it.

Step 2: Remove the turkey carcass

removing turkey carcass from stockpotTMB Studio

Remove the turkey carcass and any meat from the stock. Strain the stock, if you like. Dice the meat and set aside.

Step 3: Add the rest of the ingredients

Preparing Turkey Soup in a StockpotTMB Studio

Return the stock back to the pot and add the turkey meat, rice, onion, celery, carrots, bay leaf and poultry seasoning. Add any remaining seasonings to taste.

Step 4: Let the soup simmer

Cover the turkey soup and simmer over medium-low heat until the rice is cooked. When you’re ready to serve, discard the bay leaf.

Turkey Soup in Soup Pot on Wooden Chopping BoardTMB Studio

Turkey Soup Recipe Variations

  • Add more vegetables: Corn, diced zucchini, red or green bell pepper, tomatoes — whatever vegetables you love in soup will taste great in this turkey soup. Get more ideas from this turkey vegetable soup recipe.
  • Replace or omit the rice: If you don’t like white rice, leave it out, or use brown rice or wild rice. You can also use any small pasta shape, like ditalini, macaroni or egg noodles. If you go the noodle route, cook them first and then add to the soup (store them separately as well, so they don’t get too mushy).
  • Use fresh herbs: In addition to any dried herbs, throw in some chopped fresh rosemary, parsley or thyme to the soup for a burst of flavor.

How to Store Turkey Soup

Store turkey soup in an airtight container for up to four days in the refrigerator.

How to Freeze Turkey Soup

If you plan on freezing the soup, cook the rice and store it separately. Freeze turkey soup in individual freezer-safe containers or bags for easy single-serving reheating, or in any airtight container or bag. Freezer-safe bags are great because you can lay them down and freeze the soup flat to save space. The soup should last up to six months in the freezer, although it’s best for up to three months. To reheat turkey soup, you can put it right into a pan or large pot and gradually warm it on the stovetop.

Turkey Soup Tips

Turkey Soup Served in Ceramic Bowls with SpoonsTMB Studio

How can I add more flavor to my turkey soup?

You can add more herbs and different spices to add more flavor to turkey soup, but sometimes a bit of salt is all you need. The other clincher is cooking the carcass low and slow to get as much flavor from the roast turkey as possible. Try sauteeing your vegetables in a bit of olive oil before adding to the soup. Finally, a splash of vinegar or lemon juice just before serving adds brightness to every bowl.

Can you thicken turkey soup?

Turkey soup is generally a broth-based soup, not thick like a stew. But if you’d like to create a richer texture, consider making a slurry with a bit of cornstarch and broth and add it to the soup. Or, if you cook your vegetables before adding to the broth, add a tablespoon or so of flour to the softened vegetables, combine well and add it all to the stock.

Can I cook rice separately from the turkey soup?

Yes! Instead of cooking rice in the broth, you can make the rice alongside the soup and add to each bowl. Keep the rice and soup separate for storage.

Watch how to Make Turkey Soup

Turkey Soup Recipe

Prep Time 30 min
Yield 12 servings (5 quarts).

Ingredients

  • 1 leftover turkey carcass (from a 14-pound turkey)
  • 3 quarts water
  • 2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup uncooked long grain rice
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 celery ribs, finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, grated
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Dash poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Optional: Salt and parsley

Directions

  1. In a stockpot, place turkey carcass, water and broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 4-5 hours.
  2. Remove carcass from stock. Remove any meat; dice. Return to stock along with rice, onion, celery, carrots, bay leaf and poultry seasoning. Add remaining seasonings to taste. Cover; simmer over medium-low heat until rice is cooked. Discard bay leaf. If desired, garnish with minced fresh parsley.

Nutrition Facts

1-2/3 cups: 147 calories, 2g fat (0 saturated fat), 28mg cholesterol, 412mg sodium, 15g carbohydrate (3g sugars, 1g fiber), 12g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 1 starch, 1 lean meat.

My daughter got this recipe from her husband's mother. As in many households, our turkey gets picked over for a few days after the holidays. This soup is especially good on cold winter nights when it's snowing...which happens a lot where I live! —Carol Brethauer, Denver, Colorado