Turkey rice soup is a fantastic way to use up leftover turkey after the holidays. Healthy, flavorful and easy to make. And oh, so comforting! Plus, it freezes well, making it a good option for meal prepping.
Turkey Rice Soup, or really any turkey soup recipes, are a “must” for post- holiday meals. Truth be told, it’s hard to convince my family to give the top ranking to anything but my Light Turkey Corn Chowder. It’s a family and reader favorite!
However, it seems there are some new contenders in the ring. This turkey rice soup and my Instant Pot Turkey Soup with noodles.
It’s nearly impossible to pick a favorite!
For more ideas, check out 15 Healthy Thanksgiving Leftover Recipes. Here are a few to get you started:
▪️ Baked Mashed Potato Bites
▪️ Turkey Cranberry Sandwich Wrap
▪️ Turkey, Cranberry & Goat Cheese Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
💙 What’s to love about this Turkey Rice Soup recipe:
▪️ FLAVOR: There’s something about the flavor of turkey soup that’s so comforting. Herbs, vegetables and garlic combined with piping hot broth and tender cooked turkey. Heavenly!
▪️ SO EASY! Broth-based soup recipes are as basic as you can get. Saute the veggies, simmer the broth and rice (or pasta) and add the cooked meat. Easy, right?
▪️ FREEZER-FRIENDLY: Soup is ideal for meal prep! Once the soup cools, store it in freezer-friendly containers for 3 to 4 months. Perfect for last-minute meals.
Serve turkey soup with a green salad, such as my family’s favorite Apple Pecan Salad. Or try Maple Pear Salad with Goat Cheese.
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INGREDIENTS FOR TURKEY AND RICE SOUP:
- TURKEY: Use leftover roast turkey. I used turkey breast, but dark meat (thigh), or a combination of the two, can be used.
- VEGETABLES: White or yellow onion, a large carrot and a large stalk of celery.
- GARLIC: Use 3 large cloves of garlic.
- OLIVE OIL: A couple of teaspoons to sauté the vegetables. If you prefer an oil-free version, saute the vegetables with a little water or broth.
- HERBS: I used dried thyme, rosemary and sage. Fresh herbs can be used, but you’ll need a larger amount. Add fresh parsley at the end.
- BROTH: Low-sodium chicken broth.
- RICE: Brown rice adds a nice dose of fiber. I used brown basmati rice, but other varieties work, too. Avoid using short-grain brown rice for this recipe. It is much stickier than a long-grain brown rice.
- SEASONING: Season with kosher salt and ground black pepper.
TURKEY: Swap out the leftover turkey with leftover cooked chicken. A rotisserie chicken from the store works brilliantly! Or make a poached chicken breast on the stovetop or Instant Pot shredded chicken.
RICE: As mentioned above, any medium- or long-grain brown rice can be used. Wild rice is also a good option. If you prefer to use white rice, decrease the amount of liquid by a couple of cups and lower the simmer time to about 20 minutes (or until the rice is done).
HERBS: If using fresh herbs in place of dried, use three times the amount that’s listed in the recipe. For example, instead of 1 ¼ teaspoon dried thyme, use 3 ¾ teaspoons fresh thyme.
How to make Turkey Rice Soup:
The general instructions for a broth-based soup are very simple: Sauté the aromatics, add the herbs and spices, simmer the broth and add remaining ingredients at the end. Let’s talk details…
SAUTÉ THE AROMATICS: Start by heating a drizzle of olive oil in a large saucepan set over medium heat. I like to use a large, enameled cast iron saucepan for soups, but any large saucepan works. Add the onions, carrots and celery. Sauté the veggies until the onions is tender and translucent. That should take about 6 to 8 minutes.
GARLIC AND HERBS: Add the minced garlic, rosemary, thyme, sage, salt and pepper. Cook for one minute while giving it a good stir.
ADD BROTH AND RICE: First, rinse the rice in a fine mesh sieve to remove any extra starch. Add the rice and broth to the saucepan. Give it a stir.
BOIL AND SIMMER: Turn up the heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Once the broth is boiling, turn the heat to somewhere between medium-low and medium. The goal is to keep the broth at a lively simmer. Cover the saucepan. Cook until the rice is tender, which takes about 45 minutes, depending on the heat of your stovetop and the variety of rice. Take a bit of the rice (careful, it will be hot!) to test for donesness.
STIR IN TURKEY: Remove the soup from the heat and stir in the cooked turkey.
SERVE: Taste the soup and add more salt and pepper if needed. Stir in the parsley and ladle the soup into bowls.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Yes, with a couple of adjustments. First, first white rice cooks in less than half the time as brown rice. About 20 minutes should do the trick, though be sure to test for doneness.
Since the soup simmers for less time than with brown rice, less broth is needed. Reduce the amount by about 2 cups.
Yes! In fact, it tastes even better the next day. Cool the soup to room temperature, transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.
The storage time limit depends on how long ago the turkey meat was roasted. For example, if the turkey was roasted on Thanksgiving (Thursday in the U.S.), the turkey meat is good for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator, according to the USDA. If you make the soup the next day (Friday), the soup should be eaten or frozen by Sunday.
There are a couple of freezer storage options. For both, first cool the soup to room temperature.
The first option is to store the soup in a freezer-safe airtight container (or several containers), such as these glass ones.
Alternatively, ladle the cooled soup into resealable freezer bags. Lay the sealed bags flat on a baking sheet and pop the whole thing into the freezer. Once the soup is frozen, store the bags horizontally or vertically in the freezer.
When stored properly, turkey soup can be frozen for 3 to 4 months.
Remove the soup from the freezer and allow it to defrost in the refrigerator overnight. Alternatively, use the defrost function on your microwave.
If reheating a large batch of soup, I find it easiest to reheat it in a saucepan on the stovetop. For just a bowl or two, I use the microwave.
Turkey Rice Soup Recipe
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- ½ yellow or white onion chopped
- 1 large carrot cut into thin half-circles
- 1 large celery stalk chopped
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1.25 teaspoon dried thyme
- ¾ teaspoon crushed dried rosemary
- ¾ teaspoon dried sage
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground pepper
- 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth or more if needed (See Note 1)
- ¾ cup brown rice rinsed well (See Note 2)
- 3 cups chopped or shredded cooked turkey breast (see Note 3)
- 3 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan set over medium heat.
- Add the onions, carrot and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens and becomes translucent.
- Add the garlic, thyme, rosemary, sage, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
- Pour in the chicken broth and stir in the brown rice. Bring the broth to a boil, then reduce the heat so that the liquid is at a lively simmer. On my stove, that’s between medium-low and medium, but varies from stove to stove.
- Cover the saucepan. While cooking, stir the soup occasionally, scraping gently along the bottom of the saucepan with a wooden spoon, to make sure the rice isn’t sticking. Cook until the rice is tender, about 45 minutes. This will vary, depending on the rice and stovetop heat. Tasting the rice (careful, it will be hot) is the best way to test for doneness.
- Remove the soup from the heat and stir in the turkey and parsley. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.
- Add additional broth if too much of it cooked down while simmering.
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We made this yesterday and I'm so glad we did. Really nice flavors!
I don’t see the rice listed in the ingredients.
Sorry for the omission. It has been added now. I hope you enjoy the soup!