A Tale of Three Turkey Soups

For how long are those leftovers edible? 

It’s all over but shouting. Hopefully you gave thanks with the best of them and enjoyed a feast fit for you.  If  the shouting turns out to be what goes on a day or two after Thanksgiving when you get on the scale, no worries. You’ll not eat like that again for…oh, probably a month.  Meantime, you’re back to your regular life and my guess is those extra couple of ounces–ok, pounds–will jump right back off the scale in a few days. And if they don’t? Salad and soup for a week could fix it. So how about some soup?

Because that leftover turkey in your fridge or freezer is wondering what’s to become of it, here are two basic “soups”, one a stew and the other a chowder you’ll enjoy making and eating. Who knows, you might have some leftovers for the freezer to get you through a couple of cold nights in December. (Don’t freeze these if you’ve already frozen the turkey once, please.) If you’ve always wanted to make dumplings, but have never gotten around to it, the first offering is your chance to try it with my easy Turkey and Dumplings. Learn to make this and feed someone’s dreams as I often hear things like, “I so miss my aunt ______’s Chicken and Dumplings”. Creamy cauliflower and cheese grace Turkey-Cauliflower Chowder and there’s a decadent variation that turns it nigh unto a cheese soup, albeit with plenty of meat and vegetables. Yep, that makes three warming soups out of your leftover turkey!  Get out your pots, sharpen your knives, open the last bottle of Chardonnay, and try these:



*Note that carrots, celery, and onions appear twice on the ingredients list, once for the broth and once for the stew itself. *You might want to make the dumplings (biscuit dough) while the broth cooks to save time. *This is a thick stew with lots of dumplings. If you’d like a more brothy version, cut the dumplings by 25% and don’t stir the pot once they’re in it. Be generous, if you can be, with salt and pepper; Turkey and Dumplings need them. 


  • Half of a turkey carcass, picked free of meat (use the rest for another soup)
  • 1 quart (32 ounces/4 cups) leftover turkey broth or low sodium chicken broth
  • 6 cups water (add more if needed)
  • Fresh parsley, divided (half in the broth and the other half chopped for garnish)
  • 1 carrot, 1 stalk celery, ½ onion with skin (for broth—will discard)
  • Kosher salt
  • Whole Black Peppercorns


  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 2 EACH:  stalks celery, diced and large peeled carrots, sliced thickly
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Kosher Salt and Fresh ground black pepper
  • 4 cups shredded turkey or can sub rotisserie chicken
  • Dumplings: Biscuit dough rolled out to 1/4-inch and cut into 1-inch rounds or cut into 1-inch diamonds or squares (Recipe below, if needed. Subs included there.)
  • 1/2 cup frozen or fresh green peas
  • Hot Sauce to taste

MAKE THE BROTH: Add the 1/2 turkey carcass, broth, and water with half of the parsley to a large soup pot along with one carrot, one stalk of celery, and the ½ onion with skin. Stir in 2 teaspoons salt and 1 tablespoon black peppercorns. Bring to a boil and reduce to a healthy simmer for 15 minutes.

STRAIN THE BROTH; DISCARD SOLIDS: Strain broth through a fine mesh strainer into another pot and discard carcass/bones, vegetables, parsley, and peppercorns. (Or puree the vegetables and return to pot.) Return clear broth to pot and bring back to the healthy simmer. Stir in minced onion, diced celery and sliced carrots, thyme, bay leaf, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, and shredded turkey or chicken. Let simmer until vegetables are nearly tender—15 – 20 minutes.

ADD THE DUMPLINGS, SIMMER COVERED, AND SERVE HOT: Reduce heat a bit and add dumplings a few at a time (biscuit dough pieces).  Cover and cook 20-30 minutes–adding a little more water or broth if needed– or until dumplings are tender, adding peas for the last 10 min. Stir very gently, if needed, as dumplings will disintegrate easily as they cook and make this stew gloppy. Taste and adjust seasonings, including adding a little hot sauce, if desired. Serve hot garnished with chopped parsley. Pass the black pepper at the table. Whoever gets the bay leaf does the dishes. 

Cook’s Notes:    If the carcass didn’t make it home with you, but a wing and a leg did, they’ll work fine.

STORAGE: Chill and store in fridge a day or two if your turkey or chicken was cooked yesterday or the day before. If your poultry is 3 days old when you make this, eat it all that day or freeze to heat and eat at once, discarding leftovers. Will keep 3 months in the freezer.  Thaw overnight in the fridge and warm in 350 degrees F oven or slowly in a covered pot on the stove top, adding broth as needed. Check for seasonings before serving.


  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon eachCream of Tartar and kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 8 tablespoons cold salted butter, chopped into small pieces
  • 2/3 cup whole milk or a few drops more, as needed

Mix dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, Cream of Tartar, salt, and sugar) in a bowl or in a food processor bowl.  Add butter and cut into the flour with a pastry cutter, two knives, or pulsing 5 or 6 times with the steel blade of the food processor until you have fat-covered flour pieces smaller and larger than peas in the mixture.  With fork or pulsing with steel blade of food processor, mix in milk all at once until the dough holds together. Place on a floured counter or board, knead several times (adding a little flour if it’s sticky), and roll out until the dough is 1/4-inch thick. (If you like doughy or cushy biscuits, make it 1/2-inch.) Using a floured 1-inch round biscuit or cookie cutter, cut the dough into a dozen or more rounds OR just cut into 1-inch diamonds/squares using a sharp knife.

*My biscuit recipe is based on James Beard’s biscuit recipe in THE FANNY FARMER BAKING BOOK by Marion Cunningham . Substitutions below.

{printable recipe}


*You might also try Edna Lewis’ famous biscuits, too. In her cookbook, however, the biscuit dough she uses for dumplings is a bit different than on the link and makes a smaller amount of dough. If you have dough leftover, bake a few biscuits!

*Use your own recipe or Bisquick, if you like it. You can drop in rounded spoonfuls of dough to make dumplings, though they might take a bit less time to cook.

*My mom used canned biscuits late in life for dumplings, cutting each into fourths or smaller before cooking.

*I’ve heard of people cutting tortillas into strips to use for dumplings, but haven’t tried it. Let me know if you do.

*Some people use store-bought gnocchi instead of dumplings.

*Just a thought! Frozen egg noodles, very delicious on their own, will work, too, but they’re not dumplings, per se. Follow package directions for how to cook them and enjoy.

DRINKS:  Of course I’d drink Chardonnay or Viognier with this. I’ll be brave, though, and say lots of southern folk drink sweet tea with turkey or chicken and dumplings or maybe a beer on a hot day.


6 servings

If you’ve no potatoes or don’t want to use them, use more cauliflower, carrots, and corn. If you’ve no carcass or bones, no worries; skip that. The broth, homemade or store-bought, will still give you a luscious, filling soup.  If you’d like the Cheesy Turkey-Cauliflower Chowder, scroll down to after the recipe. I kinda like the variation better in the end. Isn’t that how things go?

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 each: leeks (white and light green parts only), cloves of garlic, celery stalks, large carrots  (Chop all except carrots, which need to be sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices.)
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried or ground thyme
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 cup diced potatoes–I used small new potatoes, quartered, and left the skins on
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose, unbleached flour
  • 2 quarts turkey broth or low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 quart water
  • 1/2 turkey carcass/bones — perhaps wings and legs with meat removed (use other half for Turkey and Dumplings), optional
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1-2 cups cooked, chopped or shredded turkey
  • Hot sauce
  • Garnishes:  chopped green onions and grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese

Melt the butter in large soup pot. Add and cook the leeks, garlic, celery, carrots, and onion seasoned with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and with the dried and fresh herbs for 10 minutes, stirring, or until softening. Add potatoes and sprinkle with flour; stir for a minute or so. Add broth, water, and carcass, if using.  Bring to a boil and let cook 15 minutes.

If you’ve used the carcass, strain soup into another pot; remove carcass and discard it. Return vegetables to the pot, if desired. (I think the soup is all the better for them, but skip it if you like a clearer broth.).

Taste and adjust seasonings.  Add cauliflower. Simmer 15-20 minutes or until everything is tender, adding corn half-way through. Stir in milk and turkey; bring to a simmer for 4-5 minutes or until thickened. Taste and adjust seasonings again, adding a dash or two of hot sauce. Serve hot garnished with green onions and cheddar.

OR…..Make my

Cheesy Turkey-Cauliflower Chowder

Follow directions above to right before the last sentence, where you’ve added hot sauce.  Turn off the heat, remove pot from burner, and stir in 8 ounces (about 3 cups) sharp or very sharp grated Cheddar until melted. Serve hot garnished with chopped green onions.  To warm leftovers, heat over a low flame and do not boil or cheese will separate.

{printable recipe}



Turkey Noodle Soup/How to Make Soup from that Carcass

Turkey Wild Rice-Vegetable Soup

Turkey-Acorn Squash Salad with Apples and Parmesan Dressing

Let’s take a walk around the block,


3 thoughts on “A Tale of Three Turkey Soups

  1. Pingback: Salmon Puttanesca – More Time at the Table

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