Got leftover turkey? Running out of ideas for using it up? Look no further than this hearty and comforting leftover turkey soup with potatoes. This recipe is a great way to use up leftover turkey and vegetables like potatoes, carrots, celery, and onion. It’s essentially like a mashup between two beloved soups – chicken noodle and potato. What’s not to love about that?
Reasons to love leftover turkey soup
Nothing hits the spot quite like a leftover turkey sandwich on the day after Thanksgiving, but after a day or two of eating them, you may feel burnt out. Don’t waste that turkey this year – put it in a soup!
This leftover turkey soup is a great way to use up that overabundance of turkey as well as other leftover items like potatoes, carrots, onions, celery. You can also make it with chicken.
Plus, it’s chunky, cozy, and heartier than your typical chicken or turkey noodle soup thanks to our BFF, potatoes. Basically, it’s like a big fuzzy sweater in soup form.
Ingredients for potato soup with turkey
This ingredient list might seem long, but if you had guests over for the holidays, I’m guessing you have quite a few of these items on hand already.
- Olive oil or butter for sautéing
- Sweet onion – you can also use a white onion or shallots
- Carrots – you can also substitute in turnips or parsnips
- Celery – leeks would also taste amazing with this potato soup
- Seasoning – a teaspoon of each, salt, pepper, dried thyme, and granulated garlic works great. I also added in a bay leaf for extra herby flavor. If you’re a Trader Joe’s fan, I’d also highly recommend their Everything But The Leftovers Seasoning Blend – it’s perfect for poultry and you can use about 1 tbs it in place of the other seasonings I listed.
- Potatoes – I used russet here, but you can also use gold or red potatoes
- Flour to thicken the soup
- Chicken broth – you can also use turkey broth or vegetable broth
- Leftover turkey or chicken
- Milk – a cup adds a touch of creaminess to this recipe. You can use whatever % you like (even half and half) or swap in unflavored, unsweetened plant milk.
- Fresh herbs to garnish – I used parsley, but you can omit this or use other fresh herbs if you’d like.
Tips for the best turkey soup
Soup is pretty simple to make, but there are a handful of tips you should use to ensure your turkey and potato soup turns out perfectly every time.
- Thicken with a roux or slurry. Clear, broth-based soups are great and everything, but sometimes you need some more sustenance. Luscious, creamy soups with body are the warm hug we all desperately need during cooler months. To thicken your soup, you can either make a roux (cook vegetables in oil or butter, then add flour and brown before adding broth) or a cornstarch slurry (mix equal parts cold water and cornstarch, then pour into simmering broth).
- Amp up the flavor with homemade broth. If you really want to add some love to this recipe, try making your own veggie or poultry broth. (I promise, it’s easier than you think.) Need help? Try my turkey bone broth recipe.
- Add milk last. When milk boils and overcooks, it begins to curdle… yuck. To prevent this from happening in your soup, add milk or cream after the vegetables are finished cooking, just a couple of minutes before serving. The goal is to gently heat the milk or cream, not boil it.
- Test for consistency and taste. As with any recipe, it’s important to taste soup as you go. Here are a couple of key times to taste:
- After you add broth, taste and assess the seasoning level. Feel free to add more!
- Before you add milk, check that the soup is the correct consistency. If it’s too thick, add more broth. If it’s too thin, simmer the soup a bit more to allow some of the liquid to evaporate.
Frequently asked questions
Try to eat or use up leftover turkey in other recipes within 3 days.
Fall and winter veggies complement turkey nicely. I used carrots, celery, and onions here, since I usually have extras of these basics on hand, especially after big meals like Thanksgiving. Feel free to use whatever veggies you enjoy! If you need ideas, try spinach, kale, bell peppers, turnips, parsnips, leeks, mushrooms, shallots, corn, or peas.
Yes! Ladle soup into single-serving jars or food storage containers, leaving a bit of space at the top. If you’re ladling hot soup into glass containers, cool them in the fridge before transferring to the freezer. (Take it from me, someone who has shattered a glass jar in the freezer because she was inpatient and didn’t realize glass doesn’t like rapid temperature shifts.)
Move frozen soup to the fridge to thaw overnight before eating, then reheat and serve!
- Use chicken instead of turkey – I’ve tried this and can verify it’s delicious!
- Add more veggies – This recipe works great with whatever veggies you have on hand. Try spinach, kale, bell peppers, turnips, parsnips, leeks, mushrooms, shallots, corn, or peas.
- Noodle or rice version – If you want to use noodles instead of potatoes, I’d suggest egg noodles. You can also use your favorite type of rice. Here’s what you’ll need to do differently – add the flour to the vegetables (sans potatoes), add the broth and bay leaf, bring the mixture to a simmer, then add the noodles (or rice) and cook according to package instructions. Add the milk when you have about 2 minutes left in your cooking time.
- Dairy-free option – Omit the milk for a broth-based soup, or swap in unflavored, unsweetened plant milk.
- Gluten-free option – Swap in gluten-free flour or make a cornstarch slurry instead of a roux. To make a cornstarch slurry, whisk together 2 tbs each cold water and cornstarch until no lumps remain. Once your broth is simmering, add the slurry. Your soup will thicken as it cooks.
- Instant Pot variation – Set the Instant Pot to sauté mode and complete steps 1-3 as written. When you get to step 4, press ‘cancel.’ Add the chicken broth and bay leaf. Using a sturdy spoon, do your best to scrape any stuck on bits from the bottom of the pot. Put the lid on the Instant Pot, turn the valve to ‘sealing’ mode, then press ‘manual’ mode (high pressure) for 10 minutes. When the timer goes off, do a quick release of the pressure valve. Complete steps 5-6 as written.
Leftover Turkey Soup with Potatoes
- 1 large pot or dutch oven
- 1 tbsp olive oil or butter
- 1 cup sweet onion diced
- 1 cup carrots peeled and diced
- 1 cup celery diced
- 1 tsp salt or more to taste
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp granulated garlic
- 4 small russet potatoes peeled and cut into 1 in cubes
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 32 oz chicken broth fat free, reduced sodium
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cups shredded cooked turkey
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley optional, chopped for garnish
- Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add olive oil to coat. Add onion, carrots, and celery and sauté for 5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent.
- Add salt, pepper, dried thyme, and granulated garlic, then stir and sauté until fragrant (about 1 minute).
- Add cubed potatoes, stir, then sprinkle the vegetables with all-purpose flour. Continue stirring and cooking the mixture until all of the flour is evenly incorporated and beginning to turn golden in color. (The mixture will look really thick at this step – that's normal! You're essentially making a roux that will thicken the soup.)
- Add the chicken broth and bay leaf. Using a sturdy spoon, do your best to scrape any stuck on bits from the bottom of the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook until the potatoes are fork-tender (about 10-15 minutes).
- Add shredded cooked turkey and milk. Stir and continue cooking until heated through (about 2 minutes). Remove the bay leaf. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
- Garnish with fresh parsley and serve.
- Please note that nutrition facts are an estimate and can vary widely based on amounts and specific types used.