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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.
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 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.
What makes this the best Turkey and Rice Soup?
The splash of fresh lemon juice and sprinkle of gremolata at the end elevate this comforting soup from ordinary to extraordinary. Gremolata is a versatile Italian condiment, a simple blend of minced parsley, garlic, and lemon zest. It's just the thing to enhance and brighten savory flavors.
Should I rinse rice?
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 wild rice 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
Homemade turkey stock tastes amazing and is easy to make. Here's what to do:
- Add the turkey carcass and, if you like, the little bag of treasures that you’ve pulled from the turkey before roasting (neck, etc.) into a large pot or, ideally a stock pot, and add enough water to cover.
- Then add two quartered onions, a large handful or two 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, until you decrease the volume of liquid by about half and your stock has a rich, golden color.
- Let it 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).
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
Step 1: 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.
Step 2: While soup cooks, stir together lemon zest, parsley, and garlic in a small bowl. Juice lemon in separate bowl.
Step 3: 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)
- ¾ cup long grain white rice (see recipe note #2)
- ⅓ cup minced flat leaf parsley
- 2 medium cloves garlic minced
- ½ 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.