The Best Leftover Turkey Soup

This creamy vegetable, turkey, rice soup is the best leftover turkey soup ever. I always keep the recipe on hand for after holiday meals like Thanksgiving!

White bowl with the best leftover turkey soup, creamy vegetable, turkey and rice.

I know you are probably knee deep in pie crust, recipe prep, and chaotic stress right now. And I don’t want to interrupt you.

But please promise you’ll bookmark this recipe and revisit it the day after Thanksgiving, because trust me, you don’t want to miss your chance to use some of those precious turkey leftovers in this incredibly delicious soup. 

It is one of the best soups EVER. Good news: in the off-turkey season, it works great with cooked chicken. However, I have to say that I like it better with turkey. I don’t know why. I’m sure there’s some placebo effect going on in there, but either way, it’s one of my favorite ways to use turkey leftovers.

And that’s saying a lot because this girl looks forward to Thanksgiving each year mainly in anticipation of leftover turkey sandwiches on homemade rolls. 

This soup is loaded with really good things

The base of the soup begins with sautéed carrots, celery, onions and a few simple, fragrant seasonings. You could probably throw in some garlic, too. It’s a homey…yet delicious start. 

Sauteeing carrots, celery and onions for the best leftover turkey soup.

What kind of rice to use for leftover turkey soup

Once a little broth is added (leftover turkey stock? use it!), in goes the rice. Now, this part is open to wild interpretation. If you only have white rice, use it! But this turkey soup is fantastic with hearty brown rice or a brown and wild rice combo. 

I like to use a brown rice blend with some different varieties of brown rice and some wild rice, too. I’m pretty sure I found it at Costco, but you can search the rice aisle for a blend that works for you and then adjust the simmering time to account for whatever variety you are using. 

Brown and wild rices will take longer to cook than white rice.

Adding brown and wild rice to pot of creamy turkey soup.

How to easily thicken the soup

My favorite thickening hack for creamy soups is to blend flour with milk or half and half and whisk that into the soup instead of making a separate roux on the stovetop. It also saves a few calories since no butter is involved – a slight travesty, but worth it in the long run.

I mean, we all just indulged in probably the highest calorie meal of the year, so omitting a little butter is in the good interest of us all. 

In this soup, I use half and half, but milk will work just fine (avoid skim milk if you can – it can turn the soup grainy and doesn’t thicken the soup as well). 

Pouring milk mixture into pot of soup.

Then in goes the turkey! I use a mix of white and dark meat. And like I mentioned above, if you are viewing this post in March and there’s no leftover turkey in sight, go ahead and throw in some cooked chicken. No one will be the wiser.

However, if you have enough leftover turkey to freeze, you CAN make it in March and relive savory Thanksgiving flavors again. 

Adding turkey to the best leftover turkey soup.Ladle scooping out best leftover turkey soup, creamy vegetable, turkey and rice.

This soup is thick and creamy, hearty and comforting. 

It takes on some serious creamy chicken and wild rice vibes, yet it still lives in its own little world. The turkey and simple seasonings make sure of that. 

I actually think it’s my favorite creamy veggie + rice soup in the long lineup of similar soups I have on my blog. It is the perfect soup for a cold night (especially a day or two after an indulgent holiday meal). 

While languishing in your pie and homemade roll comas, promise me you won’t forget about this one! 

White bowl with the best leftover turkey soup, creamy vegetable, turkey and rice.

One Year Ago: Chocolate Truffle Cookies
Two Years Ago: Creamy Homemade Hot Chocolate {in 15 minutes or Less}
Three Years Ago: Glazed Cranberry Lemon Cake
Four Years Ago: Make-Ahead Buttermilk Dinner Rolls
Five Years Ago: Yummy Fresh Cranberry Salsa
Six Years Ago: Triple Chip Pumpkin Oatsies
Seven Years Ago: Black and White Holiday Bark
Eight Years Ago: Vegetable Sauté with Simple Cream Sauce

The Best Leftover Turkey Soup

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
The Best Leftover Turkey Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or avocado oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 teaspoon fresh, chopped)
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary (or 1 teaspoon fresh, chopped)
  • 6 cups chicken or turkey broth/stock (I use low-sodium)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup brown rice or brown rice blend (see note)
  • 2 teaspoons salt (I use coarse, kosher salt)
  • Pinch of black pepper
  • 1 cup half and half (see note)
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 to 4 cups cooked, chopped leftover turkey

Instructions

  1. In a 6-quart saucepan or pot, heat the butter and oil until hot over medium heat. Add the carrots, celery, onion, thyme and rosemary and cook, stirring often, until vegetables are slightly tender, 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add the broth, rice, salt and pepper. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until the rice is tender. The exact time will depend on variety of rice and package directions. For a brown and wild rice blend, the time will be about 30 minutes.
  3. Whisk together or blend the half and half and flour until smooth and there are no lumps. Stir the flour mixture into the soup, whisking quickly, and simmer gently until slightly thickened, 5-6 minutes.
  4. Stir in the cooked turkey and heat through. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if needed. Serve.

Notes

Brown Rice: long grain brown rice, jasmine or basmati brown rice, or a brown rice blend work great in this soup. You can also sub white rice or a wild and brown rice blend. The key is to adjust the simmering time based on the variety of rice you are using.

Half and half: you can sub in milk for the half and half (although the soup won't be quite as silky and creamy). I suggest using 1% or 2% (not skim).

Turkey: yes, you can use leftover cooked chicken if you don't have turkey.

Follow @melskitchencafe on Instagram and show me the recipes you are making from my blog using the hashtag #melskitchencafe. I love seeing all the goodness you are whipping up in your kitchens!

Recipe Source: from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe (inspired by a recipe my friend, Machele H., gave me years ago)