A perfect use for your leftover Thanksgiving turkey, this turkey vegetable soup features canned diced tomatoes, pasta and lots of vegetables, for a hearty and delicious soup.
Put that leftover Thanksgiving turkey to delicious use with this hearty turkey vegetable soup!
I love to use the smallest bits of leftover turkey for this soup and, if I cooked the turkey, I’ll make my own turkey stock from the carcass, as well. (I’ve included instructions for making homemade turkey stock below.) That’s not necessary though, as you can just as easily use store-bought chicken broth for this soup.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Turkey – this soup starts with leftover, cooked chicken. I save the smallest bits that I take of the turkey for soup. You’ll need about 2 1/2 – 3 cups, though the amount isn’t critical. If you have a little less, no worries. You’ll just have a little less turkey in your soup, but there will still be lots of other good stuff.
It probably goes without saying, but if you don’t happen to have turkey around, you can certainly make this soup with chicken, instead.
Turkey stock or chicken broth – you can use your own homemade turkey broth (instructions below if you have a turkey on hand :) or simply use store-bought chicken broth.
Tomatoes – you can use either canned diced tomatoes or canned whole tomatoes, that you hand-crush before adding to the soup.
Tomato Paste – I like to stir a tablespoon or two of tomato paste into the soup near the end of cooking, just to amp up the tomato flavour a bit. I use the handy dandy tubes of tomato paste, so it’s easy for small amounts. If you don’t have tomato paste on hand, or you don’t want to open a can, you can just omit.
Pasta – I’ve used small shells here, but macaroni also works well. Any small pasta will work.
Carrots – I started with fresh chopped carrots, but if you have leftover carrots from your Thanksgiving dinner, go ahead and use them, just add them at the end of cooking instead of at the start.
Kidney beans – I love to add canned kidney beans to this soup. You can use either red or white kidney beans. If you don’t have any beans on hand, you can omit or substitute any canned beans. I used white kidney beans here.
Something Green – Finally, finish your soup with something green, such as frozen peas (or leftover peas from your Thanksgiving dinner) and/or some chopped parsley, spinach or kale (I used kale along with some frozen peas here.)
How to make homemade turkey stock
Remove any large pieces of turkey from the turkey carcass and refrigerate to use for sandwiches or other turkey leftover dish. Save any smaller pieces for soup.
Cut the remaining carcass into small enough pieces to fit into a large stock pot. Throw in the wings if you still have them. Cover with water by about an inch. Add a chunk of any/all of raw onion, carrots and celery to the pot. If you like, you can add a sprig of thyme or a bay leaf, for a little extra flavour. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and gently simmer for 2-4 hours. Drain stock through a fine strainer into a large bowl and reserve stock for soup.
Step by Step Photos
Step 1: Start the soup by adding the onion, celery and carrots and cooking for 5-6 minutes, stirring regularly, until the onion is softened. Add the canned tomatoes, turkey stock (or chicken broth) and stir to combine.
Step 2: Add the dried pasta, drained and rinsed kidney beans and cooked turkey (mine was frozen here, which is fine to add directly to the soup). Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer gently for 45-50 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is cooked and the carrots are tender.
Step 3: Stir in the tomato paste (if using) and add any frozen or leftover, cooked vegetables at this point (I added frozen peas), along with any other greens you want to add, such as chopped kale, spinach or parsley (I added chopped kale). Cook an additional 5-10 minutes.
Finish by tasting the soup! Add salt, as needed, to really bring out the flavours.
If you have a turkey carcass and some left-over turkey bits, but you don’t feel like making soup right away, pick off the turkey and freeze in a separate container, then wrap up the carcass well and freeze that, too. Then, you can simply boil up the frozen carcass when you are ready and you can add the frozen turkey directly to the soup as you make it. (You can also freeze some of the frozen, left-over vegetables, too and add to the soup when you make it later.)
Leftover soup can be refrigerated, though it may thicken in the refrigerator, as the pasta will soak up some of the broth. To loosen it up, simply add a bit more water or broth to the pot when re-heating.
Due to the pasta in this soup, it isn’t recommended for freezing, as the texture of the pasta will suffer from the process of freezing and thawing. If you want to have soup to freeze, I would suggest omitting the pasta. You can always add some cooked pasta to the thawed and re-heated soup later, if you like.
Take this base soup and make it Tex-Mex style. Use black beans instead of kidney beans, add some diced bell pepper to the vegetable mix and adding some cumin and chili powder to the simmering soup. Maybe swap out the pasta for rice (about 1/2 cup). Stir in frozen corn at the end.
Get the Recipe: Turkey Vegetable Soup
- 6 - 7 cups homemade turkey or store-bought chicken broth, see Notes below for how to make homemade turkey stock
- 28 oz can diced canned tomatoes, or whole canned tomatoes hand crushed, with their juices
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, sliced or diced
- 1 cup celery, diced
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into thin slices or diced *see Note 1
- 1 cup dried pasta, small shells or macaroni work well
- 19 oz can white or red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 1/2 - 3 cups cooked turkey, cut into bite-sized pieces
- Thyme sprig, or a 1/4 tsp dried thyme leaves
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1-2 Tablespoon tomato paste, optional
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, spinach or kale and/or frozen peas
- Additional salt and pepper, as needed to taste
- Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery and cook, stirring, until the onion has softened, about 5-6 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes, with juices and 6 cups of the turkey or chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- Add the dried pasta, kidney beans and cooked turkey. Stir to combine. Stir in the thyme and season with some salt and pepper. Continue to simmer the soup for another 25-30 minutes or so, or until the vegetables are tender and the pasta is cooked. Taste test to be sure. *If soup gets too thick near the end of cooking, simply add a bit more broth, stock or water to thin, as needed.
- Near the end of cooking, stir in tomato paste, any frozen vegetables and chopped greens and stir in. Allow to cook until the frozen vegetables are cooked and/or the greens are wilted.
- Taste soup and add additional salt as needed. A little freshly ground pepper is nice, as well.
Remove any large pieces of turkey from the turkey carcass and refrigerate to use for sandwiches or other turkey leftover dish. Save any smaller pieces for soup. Cut the remaining carcass into small enough pieces to fit into a large stock pot. Throw in the wings if you still have them. Cover with water by about an inch. Add a chunk of any/all of raw onion, carrots and celery to the pot. If you like, you can add a sprig of thyme or a bay leaf, for a little extra flavour. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and gently simmer for 2-4 hours. Drain stock through a fine strainer into a large bowl and reserve stock for soup.
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Hi! I’m Jennifer, a home cook schooled by trial and error and almost 40 years of getting dinner on the table! I love to share my favourite recipes, both old and new, together with lots of tips and tricks to hopefully help make your home cooking enjoyable, stress free, rewarding and of course, delicious!