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This easy, one-pot turkey rice soup recipe is comforting and classic. It’s a great use for leftover turkey in the days following Thanksgiving, or freeze it for later.
Why we love this recipe
Turkey rice soup is one of our favorite ways to use leftover turkey in the lazy days after Thanksgiving. It's cozy and classic, and ticks the comfort food box without being overly indulgent. This recipe:
- Is a nice nod to Thanksgiving flavors, but with a fresh take so you won't get bored
- Cooks up in one pot for simplicity's sake
- Can use homemade turkey stock or good old chicken broth
- Packs a nice dose of aromatic veggies, and you can add as many more as you like
- Freezes well, in case you're tired of turkey now and want to save it for later. (Just omit the splash of cream if freezing. You can add it when reheating or skip it entirely.)
What you'll need
Here's a glance at the ingredients you'll need to make this recipe.
- You can use any combination of white and/or dark meat leftover turkey that you have. If you ended up with any slightly under- or over-cooked bits, this is a great place to use them. A good broth and a quick simmer cures all ills.
- I love the aromatic combination of a shallot and a leek. But this recipe is very flexible. You can substitute a large yellow onion if you like, or get creative with other alliums.
- For the rice, I tend to use a blend of brown and wild such as this one. Here, too, you can be very flexible. White, brown, wild, or a blend. Long-grain varieties are a better bet than shorter-grain ones, which will break down more and contribute starchiness to the broth, making it thicker. But you can use either in a pinch.
- This recipe works equally well with homemade turkey stock and good old low-sodium chicken broth. Even the best turkey stock will be a little bit cloudy (which is 100% fine unless it bothers you), so the color of the soup will be a little bit darker when using it. That's what's pictured here — I used our Instant Pot turkey bone broth. Boxed chicken broth will produce a brighter-colored soup.
- I like to enrich this soup with a bit of heavy cream, but you don't have to. If you plan to freeze the soup, leave out the cream before freezing and either add it when reheating or omit it entirely.
- It's not pictured here, but you'll make a beurre manié (kneaded butter) by mixing together some room-temperature butter and flour with a fork in a small bowl.
- If you'd like to add more vegetables, I've got some suggestions in the section below.
How to make it
Here's what you'll do to make a great batch of turkey rice soup. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details in the recipe card below.
- In a nice big pot, sauté the shallot and leeks in a bit of olive oil until starting to soften.
- Add the rice, water, stock, and herbs, and bring to a boil. When it boils, cover and simmer it according to the timing on your package of rice. With 20 minutes left on the rice, add the carrot and celery. (If cooking white rice, you can add them all at once.)
- Add the cooked turkey, cream, and the beurre manié. Stir in thoroughly. Note: If you plan to freeze the soup, skip the cream and either add it when reheating or just omit it entirely.
- Simmer, uncovered, for 8 minutes to thicken the soup and cook out the raw flour. That's it! this soup (like most) is good right away and gets even better as it sits for a bit.
Vegetables you can add
I've kept the recipe fairly basic so you can make it with what you have on-hand. It's delicious as-is. But it's also amenable to more veggies if you like. I recommend:
- Mushrooms. Slice and sauté 8 to 16 ounces cremini or white button mushrooms in a bit of butter until nicely browned. Stir in at the end.
- Frozen peas. Defrost and pour in a 10-ounce bag in the last few minutes of simmering.
- Frozen corn. Defrost and pour in a 10-ounce bag in the last few minutes of simmering.
- Broccoli or cauliflower florets. Stir in a few handfuls of small steamed florets toward the end of cooking. Fresh or frozen is fine.
- Green beans. Toward the end of cooking, stir in defrosted 10-ounce package of frozen green bean segments, or a few handfuls of fresh steamed green beans cut into 1-inch pieces.
Expert tips and FAQs
Absolutely. For chicken rice soup, just substitute an equal amount of cooked chicken for the turkey.
For a terrific vegetarian version, use a good vegetable broth (this is my favorite) or homemade vegetable stock and substitute two cans of either white beans or chickpeas for the meat.
Yes! To make turkey rice soup gluten-free, use a measure-for-measure gluten-free flour blend like this one. There's no need to make any additional changes.
Yes! Just omit the cream if you plan to freeze it. You can add the cream when reheating if you like, or leave it out entirely.
Once cooled, freeze the soup in tightly sealed containers for up to a year.
More favorite ways to use Thanksgiving leftovers
- If you’ve got turkey and trimmings but no gravy, make our super-popular vegetarian gravy to smother it all with happiness
- If you’ve got a turkey carcass, make really great stock
- Pot pie!
- Turkey and white bean chili (sub turkey for the chicken)
- Turkey and avocado sandwiches
- Colcannon cheddar skillet cakes for leftover mashed potatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 1 large leek, sliced
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup uncooked rice (see note)
- 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth or homemade turkey stock
- 2 cups water
- 2 teaspoons dried herbes de Provence
- 3 ribs celery
- 3 medium carrots
- 2 tablespoons (28 grams) room-temperature butter
- ¼ cup (30 grams) flour
- 12 ounces cooked turkey
- ½ cup heavy cream, optional (see note)
- In a large pot, warm the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallot, leek, salt, and pepper and cook until beginning to soften, about two minutes.
- Add rice, stock, water, salt, pepper, and herbs de Provence. If you're using white rice, add the carrot and celery now. If your rice cooks for longer, hold off until later.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for as long as suggested on the rice packaging. (For white rice, about 20 minutes. For brown and wild rice, about 45 minutes.) With 20 minutes left on the rice cooking time, add the carrot and celery.
- While the soup simmers, make the beurre manié. In a small bowl, combine the room-temperature butter and the flour. Use a fork to mash it all together to form a thick paste. Keep going until it looks homogenous, with no dry flour remaining.
- When rice is cooked, add turkey, cream (if using), and beurre manié. Stir very well until the beurre manié is fully incorporated.
- Raise heat again to bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 8 minutes to thicken the soup and cook out the flour. Ladle into bowls and serve.
- Use just the white and light green parts of the leek, and wash very well to remove any grit. I prefer to wash leeks in a salad spinner after slicing. I love the nuanced combination of shallot and leek, but you can substitute a large yellow onion if you don't have them.
- I like to use a rice blend like this one, but you can use whatever you like — white, brown, wild, or a blend. Long-grain varieties are a better bet than short-grain, but you can use either in a pinch. The soup will be thicker if using shorter-grain rice.
- The tender inner ribs of celery with leaves attached work well here. Use more than three if they’re small.
- Traditionally, beurre manié uses equal parts butter and flour. But since the soup has other sources of fat, I've changed up the ratio here. You'll still be able to make a fully blended paste with these amounts.
- To make this recipe gluten-free, use a measure-for-measure gluten-free flour blend like this one.
- I use salted butter and lightly salted turkey stock, and the additional salt in this recipe is calibrated for that combination. When your soup has cooled a bit, taste for seasoning and adjust to your preference.
- If you plan to freeze this soup, omit the cream. You can add it while reheating if you like, or leave it out entirely.
- This soup is great as-is. It also loves vegetables as much as you do! If you'd like to add more veggies, here are my favorites: Mushrooms. Slice and sauté 8 to 16 ounces cremini or white button mushrooms in a bit of butter until nicely browned. Stir in at the end. // Frozen peas. Defrost and pour in a 10-ounce bag in the last few minutes of simmering. // Frozen corn. Defrost and pour in a 10-ounce bag in the last few minutes of simmering. // Broccoli or cauliflower florets. Stir in a few handfuls of small steamed florets toward the end of cooking. Fresh or frozen is fine. // Green beans. Toward the end of cooking, stir in defrosted 10-ounce package of frozen green bean segments, or a few handfuls of fresh steamed green beans cut into 1-inch pieces.
- Once cooled, leftovers can be stored tightly sealed in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a year.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 445Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 122mgSodium: 1733mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 1gSugar: 4gProtein: 27g