Homemade Turkey Soup is one of the best and easiest dishes to make from leftovers at Thanksgiving or Christmas. It is the perfect soup to warm you up on a cold, rainy, or snowy day.
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What To Do With Leftover Turkey
When holiday meals are over, what do you do with all the leftovers? I know some people who eat turkey sandwiches for days. Others make casseroles from turkey and potatoes. We make Homemade Turkey Soup from the bones.
As I am writing this I have a pot of soup simmering on the stove. The smell is amazing and brings back memories of childhood and when I learned to make homemade soup.
My Grandmother’s Turkey Soup
Growing up, I remember my grandmother’s homemade turkey soup. There was nothing better on a cold winter day. As kids, we would go outside and toboggan or skate for hours.
My grandmother’s house was on a lake in Western Quebec and that is where we spent every weekend when I was a kid. And trust me it is colder up there than anywhere else I have been. Her soup warmed us up after being out in the cold for hours. Just the smell of that soup was enough to warm us up.
I miss those days when I could go visit my grandmother and know there was a big pot of homemade soup sitting, covered on the back porch. There was no room to keep it in the fridge so she stored it in a large stock pot outside. If you wanted a bowl of soup, you had to go out the back door and fill a small pot to heat it on the stove. She never owned a microwave.
It was the best soup ever and I can never get the recipe just right myself. Like many of my grandmother’s recipes, this one was not written down. It was all in her head. I have the same problem. I just recently started actually writing down favourite recipes so my kids can make them.
This recipe uses the carcass of a turkey or as my family always called them, The Soup Bones. This is what is left over after the turkey has been carved. There is a lot of flavour waiting to be released from those bones.
Boiling the soup bones with carrots, onion, celery, and garlic makes a great soup base. Then you add in some rice or pasta and a few more vegetables and you have a soup that can be served as a meal.
Removing the Bones
The hardest part of making this soup is removing the bones. You want to make sure you remove all the bones before serving, especially the smaller bones.
To do this easily, I use a wire skimmer along with a set of tongs to remove the larger bones. Then to remove the smaller bones, I use a mesh strainer. You will catch some carrots and celery along with the bones, I pick out the bones and return the vegetables to the pot.
Alternatively, you can also strain the pot through a mesh strainer into another large pot, then pick out the bones and return the vegetables to the pot with the stock. (This is what I do when I only want to keep the stock for use in other dishes, then I discard all the bones and vegetables)
This soup can be made in so many ways. The stock is easy to make then you can add whatever you have on hand to create a different flavour every time.
Sometimes we add cooked rice to the soup. Other times we add cooked pasta. Diced or cubed cooked potatoes can also be added.
When it comes to vegetables, there are already the vegetables needed to make the stock, but more vegetables can be added. Corn, peas, diced butternut squash, canned diced tomatoes, and green beans are just a few suggestions.
We add whatever we have on hand at the time. And this varies from Thanksgiving to Christmas when we make this soup the most.
How Do You Store Homemade Turkey Soup?
Homemade Turkey Soup can be stored in mason jars and canned. If you are not sure how to do it properly, there are easy-to-follow instructions on Bernardin’s website. This way of storing the soup will allow you to enjoy the soup all winter long.
You can also store it in the fridge in airtight containers or mason jars. This will keep the soup fresh for up to 5 days.
Freezing the soup in single serving sizes in air-tight containers is also a good way to keep the soup for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature or in the fridge then reheat in the microwave. This way is perfect for weekday lunches throughout the winter. Just take the container out the night before and it will be ready for lunch the next day.
The base recipe can also be canned or frozen for later use. Before adding any add-ins, you can store the base in air-tight containers or mason jars for use later. This is usually how we do it, then we add cooked vegetables and pasta or rice when we are ready to serve it.
Get Creative With This Soup
This soup is mainly about the stock. This is the most important part of the soup. After the base recipe is made, what you add to the soup is up to you. This changes for us almost every time we make it.
And when it comes to the kids, they like to add different vegetables and pasta than what I would normally add. They used to like alphabet pasta in their soup. Now they add shells or macaroni.
Get creative. Add the vegetables you have on hand. Add your favourite vegetables or try some of our suggestions.
Homemade Turkey Soup
- 1 leftover turkey bones from a whole turkey
- 6-12 cups water, depending on the size of the turkey
- 6-8 medium sized carrots, roughly chopped
- 6-8 celery stalks, roughly chopped
- 2 cooking onions, roughly chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 Tbsp kosher salt
- 4 whole bay leaves
- 1 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1-2 cups cooked rice or pasta
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 2 cups frozen corn
- 2 cups cooked potatoes, cubed
- Place turkey bones in a large stock pot and add enough water to cover the bones
- Add carrots, celery, onions, garlic, bay leaves and salt and pepper.
- Bring to boil over high heat
- Allow to boil for 15 minutes, then reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours, covered.
- Remove cover and simmer another 30 minutes.
- Remove from heat.
- Remove bones from the pot using a wire skimmer, making sure to remove all the smaller bones. *see notes
- Pick any visible meat remaining on the bones and return the meat to the pot.
- Add rice, pasta, potatoes or any other add-ins to the soup.
- Return the pot to the stove and heat to a simmer.
- Simmer 5 minutes to heat the add-ins.
- Serve hot.