This Turkey Soup Recipe is an easy, comforting, go-to recipe after feasting for the holidays. Use what’s left of the turkey carcass, add some vegetables and barley, and make a delicious leftover turkey soup!
If you love chicken soup, then you’re definitely going to love this yummy turkey soup recipe. Made with homemade turkey stock (don’t forget to save your leftover Thanksgiving turkey bones), softened vegetables, juicy shredded turkey, and pearled barley, I love this soup for its delicate, bold flavor and nourishing, hearty veggies.
No turkey bones to make your own stock? That’s ok. Use your favorite store-bought turkey or chicken broth. Did you run out of turkey meat? No worries. Shredded chicken breasts or rotisserie chicken will also taste great.
Now, let’s learn how to make this easy turkey soup.
What You’ll Need
- Olive oil
- Poultry seasoning
- Canned tomatoes
- Turkey Stock (or broth)
- Bay leaves
- Shredded turkey
- Pearled barley
Before getting started:
Save your bones:
After your turkey dinner, transfer the leftover turkey bones and carcass to a large ziplock bag. This easy step will help prevent the accidental bone throw away and save you time whenever you decide to make homemade stock.
If you don’t have any leftover turkey bones to make homemade turkey stock, you may use store-bought turkey stock, turkey broth, or substitute with store-bought chicken broth or chicken stock.
Why add barley?
If I’m being honest, I only added barley because it had been sitting in my pantry for a least a year and needed to be used. Lucky for me, I really love the taste of barley in soups – it’s slightly chewy, nutty, and holds up well even after prolonged boiling.
Although pearled barley (or quick-cook barley) isn’t a whole grain (since it has been polished to remove some or all of the outer bran layer along with the hull), it is a delicious alternative to the more popular semolina pasta or rice commonly found in soup.
How to Make Turkey Soup
1. Soften the veggies.
You’ll see that I added the usual onions, carrots, and celery (plus a can of diced tomatoes). Feel free to get creative and add your favorite vegetables or anything you may have lying around (chard, spinach, potatoes, sweet potatoes, or even green beans).
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large stock pot or Dutch oven set over medium heat and cook the vegetables until starting to soften, approximately 10-15 minutes. In the last two minutes stir in the minced garlic and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix well to combine.
2. Add the stock and simmer.
Add approximately 3 quarts (12 cups) of stock (I used leftover turkey stock that I had made the day before). Save time and use store-bought turkey stock or turkey broth, or substitute with store-bought chicken broth or chicken stock.
Add the bay leaves and increase heat to high, bringing everything to a boil.
Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for approximately 10 minutes.
3. Add the shredded turkey and barley.
Add the leftover, cooked turkey (or shredded chicken!) plus 1 cup of uncooked pearled barley. Stir to combine.
Continue to cook until the barley is cooked and the vegetables are completely softened, about 15 minutes.
Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste, and garnish with fresh chopped parsley, thyme, and parmesan cheese if desired.
Storage and Reheating
This turkey soup is 100% delicious and what I consider to be the best turkey soup recipe out there. It’s the perfect way to use up leftovers so that nothing goes to waste. The whole family will be begging for seconds – so an extra large pot is highly recommended.
Unless I plan to freeze leftovers, I typically keep my soup right in the pot, cover with a lid, and pop it in the refrigerator after it’s cooled slightly.
This makes for easy reheating the next day and less overall dishes.
Should you plan to transfer your soup, place it in an airtight container and in the refrigerator until ready to reheat and serve. Best when enjoyed within 4-5 days.
Try these other delicious soup recipes,
If you try making this Turkey Soup Recipe please leave a comment below! I always love to read your thoughts and feedback!
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Easy Turkey Soup Recipe
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 medium onions (chopped)
- 5 stalks celery
- 4 large carrots
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 2 tsp poultry seasoning
- 1 (15 ounce) can chopped tomatoes
- 3 quarts (12 cups) turkey stock (homemade or store-bought)
- 2 bay leaves
- salt + black pepper (to taste)
- 4-5 cups shredded turkey
- 1 cup pearled barley (quick-cook is fine)
- Fresh parsley, fresh thyme, shredded parmesan cheese (to garnish)
- Soften the veggies. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large stock pot or Dutch oven set over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and cook, stirring often, for 4-5 minutes or until the onions turn translucent. Add the carrots and celery and mix well to combine. Continue to cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring often. In the last two minutes stir in the minced garlic and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix well to combine.
- Add the stock and simmer. Sprinkle with about 2 teaspoons of poultry seasoning (Italian seasoning with a pinch of paprika will also work), and add the canned tomatoes (with their liquid) to the pot. Mix well and pour in approximately 3 quarts (12 cups) of stock (I used leftover turkey stock that I had made the day before) and add the bay leaves. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and simmer for approximately 10 minutes.
- Add the shredded turkey and barley. Add the leftover, cooked turkey plus 1 cup uncooked pearled barley. Stir to combine. Continue to cook until the barley is cooked and the vegetables are completely softened, about 15 minutes.
- Serve. Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste, and garnish with fresh chopped parsley, thyme, and parmesan cheese if desired.
- Learn how to make your own homemade turkey stock and poultry seasoning.
- You may also use store-bought turkey stock or turkey broth, or substitute with store-bought chicken broth or chicken stock.
- This recipe is also great with rice (brown rice, white rice, or even wild rice), egg noodles, quinoa, couscous, or any small pasta. To prevent the noodles or pasta from becoming too mushy, I recommend cooking and serving them on the side.
- Barley contains gluten. If you are sensitive to gluten-containing foods, omit the barley from this recipe to make it gluten-free.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)