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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.
With this simple soup recipe, using ingredients that you likely have on hand, you’ll be serving up steaming bowls in just 30 minutes.
Table of Contents
- Ingredients You Need to Make Turkey and Rice Soup
- Why is this the best Turkey and Rice Soup?
- Should I rinse rice for soup?
- Recipe Options
- How to Make Turkey Stock (Optional)
- How to Store and Reheat
- More Ways to Enjoy Leftover Turkey
- Plan Your Holiday Menu
- How to Make Turkey and Rice Soup
- Recipe Video
- Turkey and Rice Soup Recipe
Ingredients You Need to Make Turkey and Rice Soup
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- Turkey Pot Pie (A lighter version of the classic with a puff pastry crust.)
- Turkey Pot Pie Soup (I love to serve this with Pie Crust Crackers made from scraps of my Lard Pie Crust.)
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.
Turkey and Rice Soup
- 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
- 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.
- Homemade turkey stock (instructions in post) or chicken stock make this soup even better!
- Rinse your rice if you want to remove the powdery surface starch that can thicken the soup.
- Store in the refrigerator and enjoy within 4 days.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.