Turkey soup is the ultimate Thanksgiving leftover

Susan Selasky
Detroit Free Press

Let’s face it. While you’ve done your best to plan enough for Thanksgiving, chances are you probably have leftovers. Plenty of cooks planned their Thanksgiving meal counting on leftovers.

And that’s a great thing. Having leftovers means you can turn out several meals quickly days after the big meal. Most of the work and cooking is just about done.

Today’s recipe for Turkey Potpie Soup could actually be called everything but the kitchen sink leftover soup. It uses plenty of Thanksgiving leftovers, including turkey, vegetables and gravy mix. This soup makes the best use of the little tidbits of leftover turkey. If you have any cans of french-fried onions hanging around, you can use those too as a tasty garnish.

This soup has all the makings of a potpie minus the crust. But you can make some pastry crisps from leftover pie crust to add as a garnish. In trying to cut back on calories and fat, the soup gets its creaminess from low-fat milk, flour and the starchiness from potatoes. But you can substitute half-and-half or cream for the milk. Use whatever leftover vegetables on hand that you have.

If you made a stock from the leftover turkey carcass, you can use it in place of the broth. You should freeze any leftover turkey stock or opened cartons of broth at this time, too. Freeze the stock or broth in quart-size freezer bags, squeezing as much of the air out as you can, then label and date. Using the bags means you can store them flat in the freezer. Both will keep several months in the freezer.

If you still have turkey meat leftovers, this is time to properly store them. Store turkey meat in containers or sealable plastic bags. It’s a good idea to store the meat in portions you will use so you take out only what you need. Leftover turkey meat will keep up to four months in the freezer for best quality. After that, the quality starts to suffer, and it’s best used in soups and casserole dishes where you will have added moisture. With most dishes, because the turkey is already cooked, it just needs to be reheated. Prepare other ingredients first, according to your recipe. Then add the leftover turkey.

Turkey Potpie Soup

Makes: 8 1-cup servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Total time: 1 hour

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 carrots, peeled, diced

1 small onion, peeled, diced

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

6 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken or turkey broth

1 cup low-fat milk

1 medium-to-large russet potato, peeled, diced small

2 cups shredded, cubed or bits and pieces of cooked turkey

1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

1/2 packet (0.87-ounce) turkey gravy mix

1 cup frozen peas

Salt and pepper to taste

For serving (optional): Pastry crisps or french-fried onions

In a soup pot, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add the carrots and onion and saute about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the flour. Stir in the broth and milk and heat to just a boil. Stir in the potato, leftover turkey, poultry seasoning and turkey gravy mix. Reduce heat, cover slightly and simmer about 30 minutes.

While the soup simmers, if desired, make pastry crisps for serving by cutting ready-to-roll refrigerated pie crust into wedges. Place on a foil or parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees until browned, about 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.

To finish the soup, stir in the peas and simmer another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with french-fried onions and pastry crisps, if desired.

From and tested by Susan Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.

Nutritional analysis per 1-cup serving: 196 calories (25% from fat), 6 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 20 g carbohydrates, 17 g protein, 322 mg sodium, 40 mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber.