Homemade Turkey Soup Recipe

After tediously cooking and carving a Thanksgiving turkey for hours, you are probably ready to chuck the remains in the trash, but wait! Your assumed trash can actually be turned into treasure. While a quick Google search will bring up an abundance of recipes for all of your leftover turkey needs, did you know that the turkey carcass is just as valuable as the meat itself?

A turkey carcass is the perfect base for creating a flavorful broth full of nutrients and comfort. Recipe developer Mackenzie Ryan of Food Above Gold says after roasting a turkey the bones develop a richness that gives them more flavor. The broth from the carcass will be more full-bodied, richer, and delicious. By using a pre-roasted carcass over a whole raw turkey, you're saving money, and more importantly getting the full use out of your bird!

Best of all, don't feel like you need to make this soup immediately after cooking and carving your turkey. If you properly refrigerate your turkey carcass, it will easily last 10 days or more. Plenty of time to take a quick rest and get back to it.

Gather your turkey soup ingredients

After you've secured your turkey carcass you'll need 2 pounds of peeled carrots. Chop 1 pound into large pieces, and the other pound into smaller pieces. Gather 2 heads of celery, chopping 1 head into large pieces, and 1 head into small pieces. Peel 1 head of garlic, and cut 1 onion in half, and chop 1 onion small. You'll also need 1 tablespoon of whole peppercorns, 2 bay leaves, a handful of assorted fresh herbs (like parsley, sage, rosemary, tarragon, or chives), water, 2 tablespoons of butter, 2 cups of leftover turkey meat, 4-8 stems of fresh thyme and ¼ cup of cornstarch.

All about that soup base

While a great soup needs a great base, the other ingredients are equally as important when it comes to developing your flavors. Get a large pot and add your turkey carcass, 1 pound of largely chopped carrots, 1 head of largely chopped celery, 1 onion cut in half, the garlic, 1 bay leaf, and a handful of any assorted herbs of your choosing. Next, fill the pot with water, covering your ingredients, and bring it to a boil.

Simmering low and long to create a stock

Once your water is boiled, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 2 hours or until the water has reduced by half. Slow cooking on a simmer allows for all of the flavors from the turkey bones and vegetables to meld together. Don't make this common soup-making mistake and rush the broth process. Once you've given your stock enough time to form, you can strain out the solid ingredients and reserve the broth. In the spirit of not wasting food, feel free to save your cooked carrots, onions, and celery for another recipe in the future!

Cooking the vegetables and meat in your turkey broth

Now that you have your broth, it's time to create the components of your soup. Using the same pot, set your stove to medium heat, add your butter, and the rest of your finely chopped carrots, celery, and onions. 

Allow the onions to become translucent by cooking your vegetables for approximately 3-5 minutes. Once fragrant, add in your turkey meat, the second bay leaf, fresh thyme, and the reserved broth from your carcass cooking. Give your soup a good stir to fully combine, and simmer for another 20 minutes to allow your carrots to become tender. Ryan suggests using a tea strainer to make it easier to remove the herbs from the broth later on, but you can also just strip the leaves off of the stems before putting them into the soup instead.

Cornstarch transforms a thin turkey soup broth into a hearty meal

The secret ingredient of this soup is cornstarch. The addition of cornstarch will transform your watery soup broth into a thick and luscious meal. Just make sure not to add your cornstarch directly to your soup to avoid lumps. Mix the ¼ cup of cornstarch with cold water. Once combined, add it to your simmering soup. Give it a quick stir and then allow it to cook untouched for 2-3 minutes. Once the broth is thickened you can ladle it over rice, noodles, or enjoy it with a nice piece of crusty bread.

Homemade Turkey Soup Recipe
5 from 16 ratings
This turkey soup recipe is fantastic for taking old Thanksgiving leftovers and creating a hearty and rustic soup that's tasty until the last drop.
Prep Time
20
minutes
Cook Time
2.5
hours
Servings
6
Servings
Turkey soup served over noodles
Total time: 2.83 hours
Ingredients
  • 1 turkey carcass
  • 2 pounds carrots, one pound peeled and cut into large pieces, the other peeled and chopped small
  • 2 heads celery, one head chopped into large pieces and the other one pound chopped small
  • 2 yellow onions
  • 1 head of garlic, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • a handful of assorted fresh herbs (like parsley, sage, rosemary, tarragon, or chives)
  • water as needed
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cups turkey meat
  • 4-8 stems of fresh thyme
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
Optional Ingredients
  • rice
  • noodles
  • bread
Directions
  1. In a large pot, add the turkey carcass, 1 pound of chopped carrots, 1 head of celery, 1 onion (peeled and cut in half), the garlic, 1 bay leaf, and any assorted fresh herbs you have.
  2. Fill the pot with water and bring to a boil. Then lower the heat to a simmer and cook until the water has reduced by half, about 2 hours.
  3. Strain out the solids and reserve the broth.
  4. Return the pot to medium heat and melt the butter.
  5. Stir in the carrots, celery, and onion, and cook for 3-5 minutes or until the onions are translucent.
  6. Add in the turkey meat, the second bay leaf, fresh thyme, and the reserved broth from the carcass.
  7. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the carrots are tender.
  8. In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch with ¼ cup of cold water. Once combined, add to the simmering soup.
  9. Let the soup cook for another 2-3 minutes or until the cornstarch has thickened the broth.
  10. Serve ladled over rice, noodles, or with bread.
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