Looking for ways to use up leftover turkey? This Turkey and Rice Soup is a fantastic pick! It's flavorful, healthy, quick, and delicious. This recipe can also be made with cooked and cubed chicken breast, thighs, or rotisserie chicken.
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Table of contents
- Save this turkey and rice soup recipe for later on Pinterest:
- Why you'll love this turkey and rice soup recipe:
- What is better to use: white or dark meat turkey?
- Substituting chicken for turkey:
- More substitutions:
- Making this recipe with homemade turkey stock:
- How to make turkey and rice soup:
- How to cook rice:
- Don't have recipe leftovers? Make this recipe with fresh roasted turkey:
- Storage and freezing directions:
- Dietary adaptations:
- Tools needed to make this recipe:
- More easy turkey recipes:
Looking for ways to use up those extra turkey leftovers? I got you, boo!
Even though my white bean turkey chili is a hit, I wanted to share a lighter soup recipe for those of us who, after a day of feasting, just want to tone things down a bit.
But of course, "toning it down" doesn't mean less flavor. With herbs, chicken broth, lemon juice, and more, this soup is abounding in savory bright notes. The chicken broth makes this soup ultra-hydrating and the veggies make it satisfying and nutritious.
Best of all, this soup doesn't require any fancy tricks, complicated steps, or time. It's a great soup to put on the stove a bit before lunch time and let your holiday guests graze on it as they get hungry. Or, whip up a large pot of it and serve it with hot, crusty bread and butter for a delicious meal after a day of shopping!
Though this recipe is perfect for leftover Thanksgiving turkey, it also can be made any time of year with roasted or rotisserie chicken or roasted split turkey breasts (just see my notes below). Either way, it's a satisfying soup that I'll bet you make again and again!
Let's get cooking!
Save this turkey and rice soup recipe for later on Pinterest:
Why you'll love this turkey and rice soup recipe:
- Light and nutritious - enjoy a lighter meal in the days following the big feast. This soup is satisfying and hearty without being heavy or food coma-inducing.
- Tasty - a lighter recipe doesn't mean lacking in flavor. With herbs, veggies, and lemon juice, this leftover turkey soup recipe with rice will delight your taste buds!
- Simple-to-make - enjoy a homemade meal after the holiday without having to sweat it out again in the kitchen. This recipe is ready in just 30 minutes of active cooking time!
- A great way to use up leftovers - if you're sick of turkey sandwiches, this turkey soup from leftovers is a creative and nutritious way to enjoy your leftover meat!
- Rice - use long grain white rice, or reach for a wild rice blend to make turkey and wild rice soup. The wild rice will make the soup a bit heartier and add a nutty flavor.
- Olive oil - a flavorful oil for sautéing vegetables.
- Butter - just a touch adds richness and dimension to the soup.
- Onion - white or yellow onion are ideal.
- Celery - adds some green and savory flavor.
- Carrots - the sweet flavor balances the savory flavors in the soup.
- Low-sodium chicken broth - use pre-made or quickly whip up your own using chicken bouillon. You can also make your own turkey stock (see directions below).
- Cubed or shredded turkey meat - whichever works best for you.
- Spices - bay leaf, salt, dried thyme, and dried parsley all add herby dimension to the leftover turkey soup recipe.
- Lemon juice - brings a bright finish to the soup.
For more comforting soup, stew, or chili recipes, check out my creamy white chicken tortilla soup, pumpkin and sausage soup, white bean turkey chili, minestra soup, jackfruit chili, Italian lentil soup, or Instant Pot bean soup.
What is better to use: white or dark meat turkey?
This recipe is delicious with either white and/or dark meat turkey. White meat turkey has a more neutral flavor and tender texture whereas dark meat is richer and has more moisture. Use whichever you have on hand or prefer!
Substituting chicken for turkey:
Since chicken and turkey have similar flavor profiles and textures, chicken can very easily substitute for turkey in this recipe, making a delicious chicken and rice soup recipe.
Grilled chicken, rotisserie chicken, or baked chicken all work great. If you only have shredded chicken (not cubed), that can work, too.
- Rice - 2 ½ cups cooked or steamed brown rice, quinoa, Israeli couscous, or orzo can all substitute for the steamed rice in this recipe.
- Fresh herbs - 1 ½ teaspoon fresh thyme and 2 ¼ teaspoon fresh minced parsley can substitute for the dried thyme and parsley.
- Frozen veggies - 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (corn, carrots, and peas) can substitute for the celery and carrots in a pinch. For best flavor, still include the fresh onion in the recipe.
Making this recipe with homemade turkey stock:
Homemade stock has superior flavor, so if you have the time and desire to make your own with leftover turkey bones, I highly recommend it! Just follow these instructions to make the stock and follow the rest of the turkey rice soup recipe as directed.
How to make turkey and rice soup:
For the complete recipe and measurements, scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Step 1: Sauté onion, celery, and carrots in olive oil and butter over medium heat until the onion is translucent.
Step 2: Pour the chicken broth into the vegetable mixture. Stir in the cubed turkey, bay leaf, salt, dried thyme, dried parsley, and black pepper. Stir well.
Step 3: Bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender
Step 4: Stir the cooked rice and lemon juice into the soup. Heat for 1-2 minutes, or until the rice is cooked through.
Step 5: Remove the bay leaf from the soup. Season the soup with additional salt and pepper to taste (if needed) and serve hot!
How to cook rice:
There are many ways to cook rice. Choose the method below that works the best for you:
Pressure cooking/Instant Pot: add ¾ cup rice and ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons water to the pot of the pressure cooker or Instant Pot. Gently stir until the rice is covered with the water. Pressure cook the long grain white rice on high for 1 minute and the wild rice blend for 20 minutes. Natural-release the pressure for 5 minutes. Quick release the rest of the pressure. For more information about pressure cooking wild rice, see this super helpful article.
Boiling: bring a 2 quart saucepan filled ¾ of the way with water to boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium or medium-high, or until simmering but not overflowing, and boil the rice uncovered for the time recommended on the rice package. Stir the rise occasionally throughout boiling. When done, drain the rice through a fine mesh strainer.
Steaming: add the rice and water to the a sauce pan in a 1:2 ratio (or ¾ cup rice + 1 ½ cups water). Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover the rice, and steam for the time directed on the rice package directions, or until cooked through and tender.
Don't have recipe leftovers? Make this recipe with fresh roasted turkey:
If you're craving turkey soup with rice but don't have leftover turkey, you can not only make this recipe with chicken (see my notes above), but you can also fresh roast a split turkey breast for this soup.
Though it seems intimidating, turkey breasts are much quicker and easier to roast up than a whole bird. They're also pretty easy to find in the butcher section of the grocery store year-round.
My two favorite ways to roast turkey breasts are in the oven and in the Instant Pot. For directions on how to make a brined roasted turkey breast, click here.
For Instant Pot directions:
- Place the steaming trivet in the bottom of the Instant Pot bowl. Pour 1 cup water in the bottom of the pot.
- In a small mixing bowl, stir together 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 4 teaspoons poultry seasoning.
- Rub the seasoning mix under the turkey breast skin.
- Lock on the pressure cooker lid. Pressure cook on high for 6 minutes for every pound of turkey.
- Natural-release the pressure for 10 minutes.
- Remove the lid and let the turkey rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.
Storage and freezing directions:
Refrigeration: leftover turkey soup keeps covered in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.
Freezing: turkey wild rice soup can also be frozen in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. For best results, defrost the soup in the refrigerator for 6-12 hours before reheating on medium-low heat in the microwave.
As long as you are using a chicken broth or turkey stock that is gluten-free (double check the ingredient label to confirm), this recipe is naturally gluten-free and processed sugar-free.
To make this recipe dairy-free, just substitute the unsalted butter with vegan butter or an additional tablespoon of olive oil. Super simple!
Tools needed to make this recipe:
- Cutting board
- Chef knife
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Heat-safe spatula
- Stockpot or Dutch oven
- Soup ladle
- Citrus juicer (optional)
More easy turkey recipes:
More easy soup recipes:
- Gluten-Free Chicken Noodle Soup
- White Chicken Tortilla Soup
- Chicken Miso Soup
- Italian Lentil Soup
- Minestra (Farro Soup)
If you made and liked this recipe, don't forget to rate the recipe and let me know how it went for you in the comments! It always makes my day to hear from you!