Quick and Easy Spicy Leftover Turkey Soup

Every year after the holidays are over, we all end up with lots of leftover turkey. Lots and lots of it.  I’ve made a lot of the “standard” leftover turkey soup with  carrots and broccoli and maybe noodles or potatoes.  This time I wanted something with more zip.  I had some turkey (naturally), some tomatoes, lime, and of course spices, so I decided to go for a south of the border flavor.  So, spicy leftover turkey soup was born.

Ironically, a friend (who translates books from English to Spanish) once told me there are no turkeys in South America, which made her job rather difficult when she had to translate some turkey recipes for a cookbook she was working on.

I suppose that makes this not strictly authentic Mexican food.  So, let’s call it Tex-Mex. And, authentic or not, the tangy lime, the spicy cayenne, and the cool sour cream make the soup flavorful and satisfying.

UPDATE: I published this post some time ago, and decided it was time to refresh it. So, the beans have been swapped for potatoes. Then, I ditched the tomato sauce and replaced it with fire-roasted diced tomatoes. And, instead of ground cayenne, I used fresh hot banana pepper instead.  The flavor is now richer, more intense, and spicier.




Quick and Easy Spicy Leftover Turkey Soup Substitutions and Variations

  • If you don’t have a turkey carcass, use turkey thighs, depending on size, one or two should do it.
  • Add 1/2 a can of navy beans
  • Replace the potatoes with cooked rice (about 1/2 a cup)
  • Add a handful of frozen corn
  • Top with crumbled tortilla chips, or cut up some tortillas, fry them, and sprinkle them on top of the soup for extra crunch.

More Turkey Recipes

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A delicious way to use up holiday leftovers and transform the flavors.  This is sweet, spicy, and tangy too.

 

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Remember those jelly meatballs you had as a kid? They’ve now grown up and gotten more complex.  Less sweet, more spicy.

 

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The classic leftover turkey soup, chock-full of potatoes, carrots, and (shhh) frozen veggies. Why chop if you don’t have to?

 

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Tender turkey, sweet peas and carrots all wrapped in a flaky all-butter crust. Make the crust (as I did) or buy one. It’s all good.

 




Easy Leftover Turkey Soup Recipe

This easy leftover turkey soup recipe is great for a chilly spring or fall day.

It’s also a good way to use up cooked turkey after a holiday (just add the turkey during the final cooking stage).

Note: You’ll need a Dutch oven for this (since the pot has to go first on the stove, and then in the oven). If you don’t have one, use a soup pot and make the whole thing on the stove.

If you don’t have any leftover turkey handy,  use turkey thighs instead.

I had seen some boneless turkey thighs in the store, and bought them without really having a plan in mind for what to do with them.

I went searching on the internet for turkey soup and found a recipe for turkey stew, but that wasn’t quite what I wanted.  Plus, I didn’t have all the ingredients (since I hadn’t known I was going to make it!)

The original recipe called for celery,  turnips, and rutabaga (I’ve never met a rutabaga), none of which I had on hand.

So, I figured I would improvise and use what I did have to make soup.

A quick look in the pantry and fridge, turned up some potatoes, plus the turkey, a package of frozen veggies, and an open bottle of Riesling.  The original recipe also called for Herbs de Provence, which I didn’t have either, so I threw together some basil, tarragon, and thyme.




It came out really well! And, as a bonus, it warmed up my apartment beautifully.

This is a small batch recipe, and makes about 4-6 portions. Eat one and freeze the rest. Or, keep eating it all week (so you don’t have to cook again).

If you still need to use up more leftover turkey, or want a different flavor, check out this spicy turkey soup recipe.

More Delicious Small Batch Soup Recipes

easy spicy turkey soupQuick and Easy Spicy Leftover Turkey Soup

Want a bit more kick? This south-of-the-border flavored turkey soup has lime, cumin, and cayenne, tempered with cool sour cream on top.

 

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This is originally made with chicken, but turkey would work just fine too.  It could likely stand up to a more assertive hand with the spices too.

 


spicy beef noodle soup
Spicy Beef Noodle Soup for One

Clear your head, inhale deeply, and savor the fragrance. Ahhh. Only requires a few minutes work and pantry ingredients.

 

caldo verde soupCaldo Verde Soup

No leftover turkey here, though I suppose you could use turkey sausage, or extra turkey and amp up the spices with extra paprika, cayenne, and salt. But, it’s a quick soup with spicy sausage, potatoes, and bright spinach.

 




Spinach and Feta Cheese Omelette

This spinach and feta cheese omelette has salty feta, tender spinach, and a mild oniony bite from scallions.  I had a craving for spanakopitas (spinach and feta triangles, wrapped in phyllo dough), but unfortunately, I had no phyllo dough handy.

I suppose I could have gone out to get some, but believe me, when you have to go up and down (or maybe down and up) all those steps, all 56 of them, you think twice before running out to the store for just one ingredient!

So, I decided to improvise.  While I didn’t have phyllo dough, I did have the other ingredients, and plenty of eggs.

I figured with the eggs, the spinach, some feta cheese, some scallions, and a little creativity, I could get a similar flavor in an omelette without any phyllo dough. It was delicious!  And, I admit it was also a lot easier to prepare than spanikopitas!  The spanakopitas take quite a bit of time and effort to make (all that dough rolling). Unlike spanakopitas, this spinach and feta cheese omelette is ready in about fifteen minutes, which is much faster (and easier) gratification!

You can make it for breakfast on a weekday (since it doesn’t take long to prepare), or have it for a weekend brunch or quick lunch.  Just add some fruit or a chunk of crusty bread.




Omelette Cooking Tips

Omelette making can seem a bit intimidating, but it’s not that hard to master.  And, while you’re practicing, you still get to eat the results (even if they don’t look perfect, they will still taste good).

I’ve explained this in more detail in the recipe, but the idea is to coat the pan with the oil first. There’s a lot of talk about using seasoned cast iron pans, but an ordinary frying pan is just fine. Then add the eggs, and tilt the pan to spread the egg mixture evenly over the bottom. Use a fork (or a spatula) to move the uncooked (and still liquid) eggs around in the pan.  Then, once the edges firm up (and are no longer liquid), add the filling on one side.  Flip the empty half over the filling, cook it, and then slide (or flip) the omelette onto your plate.

Since it’s a bit easier  to explain omelette preparation with video and pictures, rather than words (and because I can’t hold the pan, the fork, and the camera all at once), here’s a video from the BBC that demonstrates the basic technique for making a plain omelette.

More Single Serving Egg and Spinach Recipes

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A super-quick and easy meal that’s good any time of day.  Just a few basic ingredients, but still lots of spicy cool flavors.

 

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Think part omelette and part quiche. It’s super-versatile too;  use broccoli, spinach, ham, peppers, or whatever veggies you like.

 

eggs with spinach and chili pepper

Eggs with Spinach and Chili Peppers

A light meal with a touch of heat from garlic and ginger (and the peppers). Only one pot.

 

spinach and egg frittataSpinach and Egg Frittata for One Person

Eat this hot out of the pot, or let it cool and wrap it to go. The spinach, eggs, nutmeg, coriander, and fresh dill add lots of herby and savory flavor.