A bowl of Homemade Turkey Soup with carrots and peas.



Making soup from leftover turkey couldn’t be easier. My mom would say just throw that carcass in a pot, cover it with water, add some vegetables and boil it for a few hours. It really is that simple but if you’ve never done it before it’s always good to get some guidance. After all, that’s what a recipe is.

My husband Jim, is always the one to raise his hand and accept a cooked turkey carcass. We only enjoy a few turkey dinners each year but even when we’re not cooking our host is often happy to give away the bones. As a matter of fact we’ve been know to take our stockpot when we’re invited for turkey dinner.

The Secret to Rich Turkey Stock

Jim loves slow cooked dishes that simmer for hours, use simple ingredients and end with something amazingly delicious. He enjoys perfecting the process and pays attention to every detail. Turkey soup is one of those dishes.

My mom’s old-fashioned method results in overcooked vegetables with no taste. Jim’s method ensures a tasty bone broth with all the nutrients and minerals the bones have to offer. He boils the carcass for 6-8 hours and says you know you did it right if the broth gels when it’s cold. Many sources recommend cooking the bones for 8-24 hours so plan accordingly. We cooked our turkey bones for six hours, the broth turned to gel in the fridge and tasted delicious so we’re happy with our method.

Soup From Leftover Turkey

The first round of vegetables, the mirepoix, made the delicious turkey stock but they’re done, throw them out. Add them to your compost, that’s the best place for them and then you won’t be standing their thinking it’s a waste to throw them out. For the best turkey soup add fresh vegetables and cook them just until they’re done. That’s another secret for turkey soup from leftover turkey, this dish is not leftovers!

A Seasonal Strategy

Turkey has a season and for us it’s from Canadian Thanksgiving in October right until New Year’s Day. We only make turkey soup once a year, sometimes twice, but we love it. If people were offering up their turkey carcasses every month we might tire of the process but they don’t. If you like slow food then let your friends know, someone may even have a turkey carcass in their freezer that they’d be happy to get rid of.

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Homemade Turkey Soup from leftover turkey, it's worth the effort!

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Get The Tools

You don’t need a big stockpot for soup but it comes in handy a few times a year. We have one leftover from our restaurant and catering days. A stockpot is larger than the large pot (sometimes called a Dutch oven) that comes with a typical set of pots. It will hold a whole turkey carcass and is perfect for kitchen projects and food parties like a Lobster Boil or making jam, salsa or antipasto.

If you have a turkey soup story I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

More Recipes – The Turkey Feast and a Roast Chicken


1 cooked turkey carcass, broken to fit in pot (from 12-20 lb turkey)
1 large onion, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
16 cups filtered water or more to cover the bones
8 cups turkey stock
2 cups cooked turkey meat, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 cup frozen peas
salt and pepper to taste
OPTIONAL GARNISH – fresh chopped parsley


Put turkey carcass, onion, carrot and celery in stockpot. Add water and bring to a boil.
Cover and simmer 6-8 hours. Do NOT add salt or pepper.
Strain broth and use for soup.
Put turkey stock, turkey, carrot and celery in soup pot and bring to a boil. Decrease heat and simmer 20 minutes until vegetables are almost cooked through.
Add peas and cook 5 minutes.
Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.
Garnish with fresh parsley if desired.


  • Tammy S says:

    We often use the leftover bits of vegetables for the stock. They get composted either way, just get extra use and celery leaf has lots of flavour. Wash vegetables and cut when preparing the carcass but keep peels and ends, anything you would typically compost. Use the peels etc for the stock and keep the cut vegetables for soup making. Most chefs and restaurants make stock this way.

    • Cinde Little says:

      That’s awesome Tammy, I’m glad to hear about your soup making. I sort of forgot about using the peels, I could totally do that. Happy New Year and thanks for sharing!

      • Leslie says:

        I have the same annual ritual for making turkey stock Cinde! One of the reasons I still cooked a whole turkey this year, even though it was just the two of us at home, was so that we would have turkey stock. I make my stock in the Crock-Pot!

        • Cinde Little says:

          Hi Leslie, that’s great to hear! We cooked a whole turkey as well and fortunately it was a little smaller than usual, only 14 pounds. We did get to share it with our friends who joined us on Zoom to eat but I’ve still got a lot of cooked turkey to work with. Making your stock in a crockpot is a great idea. Thanks for sharing!

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