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Warming and light, Turkey and Rice Soup is a wonderful way to enjoy leftover turkey. Tender turkey, vegetables and rice are swirled in a savory broth and finished with a splash of fresh lemon juice and a bright blend of parsley, lemon zest, and garlic. A welcome and restorative meal after days of decadent eating.

Turkey and Rice Soup served in white bowls

With this simple soup recipe, using ingredients that you likely have on hand, you’ll be serving up steaming bowls in just 30 minutes.

Ingredients You Need to Make Turkey and Rice Soup

Turkey and Rice Soup Ingredients on a white marble board
  • Leftover Turkey: White meat, dark meat or a blend.
  • Onion: Yellow, white, or sweet onions work well.
  • Butter: Salted or unsalted.
  • Carrots: Peeled or unpeeled, your choice!
  • Celery: This is a good way to enjoy those outer ribs that you may have removed for the more tender celery ribs beneath.
  • Broth: Turkey broth (or homemade turkey stock – instructions below), or chicken broth or stock.
  • Rice: Long grain white rice. Rinse your rice if you like a brothier soup as the outer starch will thicken the soup, particularly if you reheat it. (I don’t mind this and typically don’t rinse the rice.)
  • Lemon: Juice and zest.
  • Parsley: Flat leaf or curly, your choice.
  • Garlic: A couple of fresh, fat garlic cloves.
  • Kosher Salt: To taste.

Why is this the best Turkey and Rice Soup?

The splash of fresh lemon juice and sprinkle of an aromatic blend of minced fresh parsley, garlic, and lemon zest (Italian Gremolata) at the end elevate this comforting soup from ordinary to extraordinary. It’s just the right finish to enhance and brighten the soup’s deeply savory flavors.

Should I rinse rice for soup?

Rice has a powdery starch coating that can be rinsed off, so should you rinse it? It depends on what you’re cooking. If you’re boiling rice on its own, you should rinse it first to prevent the grains from sticking together, or worse, getting gummy.

In soup, the powdery starch will thicken the broth (particularly in any leftover soup). So if you want a thinner, brothy soup, rinse your rice. If you don’t mind a thicker soup, there’s no need to rinse.

Turkey and Rice Soup served in white bowls photographed from above.

Recipe Options

  • You can make this with a wild rice blend or brown rice, but note that they have a longer cooking time (~45 minutes). Cook the rice separately and add it along with the turkey at the end, just long enough to reheat.
  • If you’re making this soup from leftover Thanksgiving turkey, I recommend making stock from the turkey carcass. It’s easy and gives this soup wonderful flavor! Instructions on making turkey stock from scratch below.
  • Love lemon? Increase the juice and zest to one full lemon.

How to Make Turkey Stock (Optional)

Though it’s not essential for this soup, homemade turkey stock tastes amazing and is easy to make. Here’s how to make it:

  1. Add the turkey carcass and, if you like, the little bag of treasures that you’ve pulled from the turkey before roasting (neck, gizzard, heart and liver) into a large pot or, ideally a stock pot, and add enough water to cover.
  2. Then add two quartered onions, a large handful of fresh parsley, a few ribs of chopped celery, a handful of black peppercorns and a bay leaf if you like. 
  3. Bring this to boil then reduce the heat and leave simmering away for a few hours, occasionally skimming off any foam that rises. Let simmer until the volume of liquid has reduced by about half and your turkey stock has a rich, golden color.
  4. Let the stock cool, then strain out the solids and either enjoy it within a week or freeze in canning jars (make sure you leave a couple of inches for the liquid to expand as it freezes).

How to Store and Reheat

Store leftover Turkey and Rice soup in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Gently reheat in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring often.

Be sure to rinse your rice before adding it in step 2 of the recipe if you plan to freeze this soup (see section above about rinsing rice for soup). Also note that soups with starchy ingredients like rice will be thicker when thawed and reheated, so plan on adding more stock or broth if needed. With these notes in mind, you can freeze this soup in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.

More Ways to Enjoy Leftover Turkey

How to Make Turkey and Rice Soup

In a 3-quart saucepan, sauté onion in butter over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, or until softened. Stir in celery, carrots, broth, and rice; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until rice is nearly tender, 10 to 12 minutes.

While soup cooks, stir together lemon zest, parsley, and garlic in a small bowl. Juice lemon in separate bowl.

Stir turkey meat into soup and cook just until heated through. Add lemon juice and stir. Ladle into bowls and garnish with parsley, garlic, and lemon zest mixture (gremolata). Serve hot.

Recipe Video

Turkey and Rice Soup

4.96 from 22 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
Calories: 237
Servings: 6 people
It's the splash of fresh lemon juice and sprinkle of fresh parsley, lemon zest, and garlic at the end that makes this soup irresistible.

Ingredients  

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 large onion diced small
  • 3 ribs celery thinly sliced into half moons
  • 2 large carrots thinly sliced
  • 8 cups chicken broth or homemade Turkey broth (see recipe note #1)
  • 3/4 cup long grain white rice (see recipe note #2)
  • 1/3 cup minced flat leaf parsley
  • 2 medium cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 medium lemon juice and zest
  • 2 cups cooked turkey shredded, ~10 ounces
  • kosher salt to taste

Instructions 

  • Melt butter in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; cook and stir until softened and translucent, 3-5 minutes.
  • Add celery, carrots, broth and rice. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer 10-12 minutes, until rice is tender, but still has a little bite.
  • Meanwhile, zest lemon into a small bowl and add minced parsley and garlic; stir to combine. Juice lemon half into separate small bowl. Set both bowls aside.
  • When rice is tender, add turkey meat; cook and stir until heated through, 2-3 minutes. Stir in reserved lemon juice and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with parsley mixture. Serve.

Notes

  1. Homemade turkey stock (instructions in post) or chicken stock make this soup even better!
  2. Rinse your rice if you want to remove the powdery surface starch that can thicken the soup.
  3. Store in the refrigerator and enjoy within 4 days.

Nutrition

Calories: 237kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 64mg | Sodium: 1224mg | Potassium: 536mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 2160IU | Vitamin C: 25mg | Calcium: 53mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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51 Comments

  1. Laura says:

    5 stars
    Really enjoyed this. I added frozen spinach

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      So glad you enjoyed this, Laura! Spinach is a great addition.

  2. Gail Murray says:

    5 stars
    Five Stars from my kitchen too! I made the stock from the rest of the turkey breast also. There was enough meat left to remove before rendering the carcass. After about 2 hours of simmering, it was falling apart, and I could get more of the darker meat off the bones. I also rinsed the basmati rice first too, and made both the rice and stock the day before. It came out perfect! I followed the recipe to the letter, but added some left over “roasted root vegetables” I had saved back from the TG dinner, for this soup. The turkey and pre-cooked rice also went in with the veg. I just sent the link to this recipe to a friend and told her this was probably the best soup I have ever made, and I make a lot of soup! During the year I would make this again, using the grilled chicken breast meat that we cook on the BBQ grill. Thanks for the yummy recipe. Winner!

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      Wow, Gail! So glad to hear this was such a hit. Thanks so much for your cooking notes and for coming back to tell me!

  3. Elizabeth says:

    5 stars
    This was absolutely stellar. What a wonderful way to use up leftover turkey! We added some fresh sage & thyme since I had them hanging around, and I also put in a small chunk of parmesan rind during the simmer, to add a bit of richness. The gremolata took it over the top. Chef’s kiss!

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      Love this, Elizabeth! So glad you enjoyed this soup and added your own touches.

  4. Alison Perry Sower says:

    5 stars
    We LOVED this soup! I’ve make turkey and rice soup before after Thanksgiving but never remember this much flavor. Now, the trick may be that we simmered our turkey carcass for 12 hours on and off, and used the broth from this (our turkey had been stuffed with a lot of thyme, rosemary, parsely, butter, and apple.)
    We used white basmati rice instead of white longrain, and I washed the rice per the optional suggestion to eliminate any starchiness. I think I also doubled the onion, carrots and celery amounts per a leftover appetizer tray and pre-cut extra onion.
    The real kick and elegance (or pinch and swirl!) to this dish is the LEMON juice at the end, and the parsley, garlic and lemon zest GARNISH! Such a perfect accent of freshness and zeal to turkey soup whose downfall is often blandness. Thanks for the recipe! We will use this one for years to come, and I’d also like to try it with chicken per another comment. Bon appetit!

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      Wow, Alison! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts and cooking notes on this recipe.

  5. Ezgi says:

    5 stars
    I made this recipe tonight with my leftover turkey meat and made the stock with the carcass as recommended. The stock is heavenly. My husband loved the parsley, garlic, and zest topping. It makes the soup pop. Amazing! I highly recommend the added step for homemade stock. Totally worth the extra time. No boxed stock can compete with it!!

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      I agree 100% about the stock! I’m so glad you and your husband enjoyed this, Ezgi. Thank you for coming back to let me know!