Peppery Thanksgiving Leftovers Turkey Soup

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For the first #WasteNotWednesday after Thanksgiving, I’m sharing the soup that reminds me of childhood Thanksgivings.  My mother used to make this soup the day after Thanksgiving. If you roasted a turkey on Thanksgiving, you might still have some leftovers.  (After I left home and missed the occasional Thanksgiving (during my medical residency), my mother would sometimes save a turkey leg in the freezer so she could make this for when I could make it home.) Thankfully, my mother’s recipe uses up not only leftover turkey but also leftover gravy and any extra potatoes, carrots, and celery you might have bought for the meal.  It’s surprisingly peppery for a recipe from my mother, who doesn’t really like spicy food.  While it’s not a Taiwanese recipe, it’s usually served over rice, which tames the pepper somewhat and makes this soup a “complete meal” in a language which invites you to dine by saying, “Eat Rice!”

Mama Shiue’s Peppery Thanksgiving Leftovers Turkey Soup

Serves: 8  to 12


1 medium yellow onion, chopped

5 cups chopped vegetables, to include:

2 carrots, chopped

2-3 russet potatoes, peeled and chopped

2-3 celery stalks

8 cups turkey stock, prepared from the carcass of a roasted turkey

1-1/2 cups turkey gravy (optional) or corn starch to thicken, if not using gravy

2 cups cooked turkey meat, diced (leftover roasted turkey or pulled from the bones after making stock)

2 teaspoons finely ground black pepper

salt to taste

1 T canola oil

for serving: steamed rice (optional)


  1. Warm oil in a Dutch oven or other large pot, then add onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add all other vegetables, stir and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add stock, bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer and cook, covered, until vegetables are getting soft, about 20 minutes.
  4. Add gravy, if using, turkey, and black pepper and bring back to a boil.  If not using gravy or not thick enough, prepare a slurry of corn starch mixed with cold water, add to the boiling soup, and stir until desired thickness.  (My mom makes a very thick stew, whereas I make it just slightly thickened.)
  5. Adjust salt and pepper to taste (it should be very peppery, enough to make you sneeze and tickle the throat!), and serve over steamed white rice, if desired.


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