As the weather turns colder and the leaves begin to fall, our thoughts turn to warm, comforting meals that fill the house with savory aromas. For many, that means it’s time to make a batch of hearty, soul-warming turkey soup. This soup makes excellent use of Thanksgiving turkey leftovers, but can also be made any time of year with just turkey pieces. Easy to make and endlessly customizable, turkey soup is the perfect cold weather meal.
The base of turkey soup starts with an aromatic mirepoix of diced carrots, celery, and onions, sautéed lightly in olive oil or butter. Garlic and herbs like parsley, rosemary, thyme, oregano or sage lend additional layers of flavor. Stock forms the base – this can be turkey or chicken stock, preferably homemade for superior flavor, but high-quality store-bought works as well. Leftover turkey meat is added to the pot along with the stock and veggies. Using both white and dark meat creates a more complex, savory profile.
The great thing about turkey soup is that you can add almost any vegetable you want. Potatoes, sweet potatoes and squash like butternut or acorn pair nicely with the turkey. Green beans, peas, corn, spinach or kale also work well. Grains like rice, wild rice, barley or small pasta make the soup heartier. If you want spicier flavor, add a pinch of red pepper flakes, chili powder or cayenne. Herbs like basil, cilantro or dill freshen up the flavor.
Let the soup simmer until the vegetables are fork tender. Taste and adjust salt, pepper and other seasonings until the flavors really sing. A squeeze of lemon brightens everything up. Finally, stir in some cream or milk to give a silky texture and rich mouthfeel. Sprinkle individual bowls with fresh chopped parsley before serving.
With so many possible additions and tweaks, no two turkey soups ever have to taste the same. Cooks can customize their pot to use up veggie odds and ends lingering in the fridge. Add more potatoes for a creamy chowder-style soup, or extra greens for a lighter, cleaner broth . Turkey soup always tastes like home, but home can taste different every time.
While leftovers are the easiest starting point, you don’t need a leftover turkey to make fantastic turkey soup from scratch. Simply poach bone-in turkey pieces like thighs, drumsticks or wings in stock with aromatics until cooked through and pulling from the bone. This extracts maximum flavor and gelatin into the broth for lush body. Then remove and shred or chop the turkey meat, returning it to the pot along with your favorite vegetables.
No matter how you make it, turkey soup freezes beautifully for busy weeknights. Let it cool completely then transfer portions into rigid freezer-safe containers. Leave about an inch of headspace to allow for expansion during freezing. Label containers with contents and date, then freeze up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before gently reheating on the stovetop or in the microwave. Add a side salad and bread for a fast, fuss-free dinner even on your busiest days.
With its protein-rich meat, rainbow of veggies and soothing broth, turkey soup offers not just comfort but nutrition. It’s the perfect pick-me-up when you’re feeling under the weather. And as a bonus, it fills your home with nostalgic aromas that immediately make even the most hectic day feel like the holidays. Easy, adaptable and economical, there’s simply no better soup for chilly weather than turkey soup.