Quick Turkey Soup

One of the things that I love about the Thanksgiving turkey, or any turkey for that matter, is how much value there is in it! There is of course the main event – the dinner on the first night followed by a dinner of amazing leftovers on the second night and then you will often find there is still enough turkey left to do other things with. Turkey sandwiches, turkey salad, or even turkey hash, but I think our favorite thing to do is continue our run of dinners by turning the remaining turkey into a soup!

One way to make an amazing turkey soup is the classic method of boiling the frame in a pot of water along with various vegetables and herbs for a long time to develop the flavor. More often than not however I don’t feel like dealing with the frame and all the mess that goes along with it, so I like to take some shortcuts. I remove all of the remaining turkey from the frame ahead of time and boil it in chicken broth (or occasionally a combination of liquids, but more on that later…) instead of water. The result is a soup full of turkey flavor in much less time than the traditional method.

I know the idea of using chicken broth as a base for turkey soup may sound a bit odd, but the flavor of the turkey completely takes over and because you aren’t starting with water, the flavor builds very quickly getting you to the table much sooner to enjoy your creation!

Quick Turkey Soup Recipe

  • 4 cups turkey diced turkey – about 1/4 inch pieces
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped carrots
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped celery
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb chopped (optional)
  • 12 cups chicken broth (or mix of liquids – see notes below)
  • 1 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 pound pasta of choice

Heat the olive oil in a pot and add the carrots, celery, onion and fennel. Sautee until the vegetables are slightly softened, but still have a bit of crunch to them.

Add the sage and parsley and toss them with the vegetables.

Add the turkey and chicken broth and stir well. Bring the whole mixture to a rolling boil and continue to let it cook at this heat level for 5 minutes. I find that doing a quick initial period of boiling helps to speed up the development of the flavor.

After 5 minutes bring the heat down to simmer, cover the pot and continue simmering for 30 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, get ready to make your pasta – any kind you like will do. For this particular batch, I used fusilli. You can add it directly to the soup and cook it in the broth when the soup is done simmering, but the pasta will take in a lot of the liquid. In order to avoid that, I prefer cooking my pasta on the side in boiling water first. Once it is cooked I toss it with a teaspoon of olive oil to prevent it from sticking together and then I add some to each bowl when serving. When it is time to store any leftovers, I add the rest of the pasta to the pot at that point.

After the soup has simmered for 30 minutes, add salt to taste and serve.


  • Now as promised, what did I mean above when I said a mix of liquids? You can make this with just the chicken broth and it will come out great, but perhaps now that the main meal is over you find yourself with other leftover ingredients that you used to prepare that meal. I am all for using up the leftover ingredients – why throw them (and your money) away if they can be repurposed?

Two great examples are things I added to the soup in the picture – the leftover gravy and the remaining chicken stock we had used to make our stuffing! If you choose to add other items like these, just reduce the chicken broth by that amount. I had 2 cups of gravy and 2 cups of stock, so I reduced the chicken broth to 8 cups.

  • Turkey noodle soup is great, but so is turkey soup with rice – if you want to change it up a bit, try adding wild rice instead of the pasta!
  • Play with your food!! Perhaps at some point when you were growing up you heard one or both of your parents telling you “don’t play with your food!” While this probably is good advice when you sit down to eat, trying something new with that meal when you are done can be a lot of fun! So… after two nights of turkey dinners followed by two nights of turkey soup for dinner, an idea for an experiment using the last 2 1/2 cups of soup came to me.

Then next day I took what was left and threw it, along with two teaspoons of half and half, into our Vitamix on the soup cycle – blending it all well in a regular blender and heating it on the stove will have the same end result. Below is what I ended up with:

Next it was time for the taste test – the results could go either way! In the end, we were pleasantly surprised – the flavor was full, but more mellow with all of the ingredients blended together and the half and half along with the remaining pasta gave it a bit of a creamy texture.

Paired with a sandwich, our turkey had added a 5th meal to the list. So again I say, play with your food! You never know what magic you may stumble onto as long as you are prepared for the occasional disaster!

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