Every year, I ask myself what I like better – Thanksgiving dinner or leftovers. Hard call! This leftover turkey soup is topped with croutons made from leftover stuffing.
I know that as I am slicing the turkey for the main event, I always turn my thoughts to tucking the carcass into the fridge, ready for making soup the next day. Turkey soup is one of my favorite things about Thanksgiving.
This homemade turkey soup is not just a soup. It’s a full meal when you add lots of vegetables, noodles and leftover turkey.
And it’s amazing when you top the soup with crispy croutons made from leftover stuffing (my favorite). Here’s my homemade stuffing recipe that I’ve been making forever. The croutons taste just like the stuffing.
My husband likes to eat the stuffing croutons right off the top of the soup. I like to sink them into the soup making them mushy – it reminds me of my childhood when I soaked crackers in my soup.
This homemade turkey soup is like a reward for all the work from the days before. Comforting, hearty and super tasty.
Tailor To Your Taste
- Vegetables: I always use onion, carrots and celery. And, if I have some on hand, I also add parsnip, turnip and spinach.
- Broth: For a richer soup, use chicken or vegetable broth instead of water.
- Noodles: Orzo or fine egg noodles are my favorite, but any small pasta or rice will work.
- Use chicken instead: needless to say, you can always use bones from a roasted chicken instead of a turkey.
- The soup can be made up to 3-4 days ahead and kept in the fridge covered.
- The stuffing croutons would have to be kept in the fridge so it’s best not to make crisp them up ahead as they will become soft in the fridge.
- Reheat the soup in the pot and make the stuffing croutons while you are reheating the soup.
How to make homemade turkey soup
Leftover Turkey Soup with Stuffing Croutons
For the Basic Soup
- bones from leftover cooked turkey, broken up wings, legs, back etc (with skin is good)
- 3 celery ribs, cut into 1-2 inches pieces
- 4 carrots, peeled, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
- 1 onion, peeled
- 1 garlic clove
- handful fresh parsley
- 2 bay leaves
- sprinkle of thyme or a few fresh sprigs
- 6 peppercorns
- water or chicken broth to cover about 8 cups, broth will make a richer soup
- salt to taste (don't add salt initially if turkey has been brined)
Enhancements for finishing soup
- 1 cup leftover turkey meat, cut into bite size pieces
- 3 cups fresh spinach (or 1 cup frozen, microwaved for 2 minutes and drained)
- 1 cup cooked noodles (I use orzo or fine egg soup noodles)
- 1 cups leftover stuffing
- 1 tbsp olive oil or melted butter
- SIMMER SOUP: In a large pot, add turkey bones, onion, celery, carrots, garlic, seasonings and parsley. Add just enough water or broth to cover all ingredients. Heat to boiling, then lower heat to medium low. Cover partially and simmer for about an hour. Taste. If depth of flavor is not there yet, see Note 1. Adjust seasonings with salt and fresh herbs if desired. Strain soup through a mesh sieve, reserving carrots and celery. Place back into pot. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding salt .
- MAKE CROUTONS: While soup is simmering, heat the oven to 425F. Place the stuffing in a single layer on a foil or parchment lined pan. Drizzle oil on stuffing and toss to cover evenly. Bake stuffing croutons for about 12 minutes, shaking half way through, until golden brown and crispy.
- ASSEMBLE SOUP: Combine broth, carrots, celery, noodles and turkey in the pot and heat to medium. Add spinach if desired and stir until wilted for a minute. Ladle into individual bowls and top with a few tablespoons of stuffing croutons.
- To enhance broth flavor/depth: The trick to a rich turkey soup is the ratio of turkey bones to water or broth. So don't put in too much water - just enough to cover the veggies and bones. If you find the soup is not flavorful enough, cook it longer (uncovered) for another 15-30 minutes. Or add a can of undiluted chicken broth e.g. Campbells or chicken bullion cubes.
- Make Ahead: The soup can be made up to 3-4 days ahead and kept in the fridge covered. The stuffing croutons would have to be kept in the fridge so it's best not to make them ahead as they will become soft in the fridge. Reheat the soup in the pot and make the stuffing croutons while you are reheating the soup.
This leftover turkey soup recipe, originally posted in 2016, has been updated with new information and pictures.