Looking for the Best Leftover Turkey Soup Recipe? This Southwest Turkey Soup is just what you need. Made with a creamy, spicy broth, leftover turkey, corn, and black beans, this Turkey Soup is full of flavor and incredibly simple to make.
The Best Leftover Turkey Soup
When it comes to Thanksgiving, I am always swimming in leftovers! And while I love leftovers, I can quickly become sick of eating the same thing over and over again.
That's when I turn to this recipe for Leftover Turkey Soup.
This hearty turkey soup is a delicious way to transform leftover turkey (or chicken) into something new and delicious that tastes NOTHING like Thanksgiving! Which after a huge feast, we tend to want something new--right?!
This Southwest Turkey Soup is creamy, hearty, and slightly spicy. It is full of tender turkey, black beans, peppers, onions, and a rich tomato broth, much like a Chicken Tortilla Soup.
It also happens to be incredibly easy to make, thanks to the fact we are starting out with leftover turkey, and versatile as well. You can adapt the spices and ingredients for this turkey soup based on what you have at your house. It can also be made on the stove, in the slow cooker, or in the Instant Pot.
This Leftover Turkey Soup is a winner and the perfect way to transform your Thanksgiving leftovers.
Notes on Ingredients
- Turkey: I prepare this soup using leftover Brined Turkey or leftover Instant Pot Turkey Breast. But of course, you can make this soup using leftover Rotisserie Chicken or leftover shredded chicken, to make this recipe suitable year-round.
- Stock: Use low-sodium, store-bought, or homemade chicken stock or turkey stock.
- Taco Seasoning: While you can use store-bought taco seasoning, I always opt for my homemade blend of taco seasoning, to control the sodium content and omit unnecessary additives.
- Beans: I choose to use black beans in this Turkey Soup, but you can certainly use pinto beans or kidney beans.
- Diced Tomatoes with Green Chiles: AKA Rotel tomatoes. Be sure to select mild, not hot Rotel tomatoes or your soup will be really spicy!
- Corn: If you have leftover cooked corn from Thanksgiving, use that! If not, just add frozen corn or drained canned corn to the soup.
- Cream Cheese: The cream cheese gives this soup a creamy finish and helps to tame the spiciness of the soup. Just be sure to use room-temperature cream cheese so that it easily blends into the soup. You can also opt to omit the cream cheese to keep this soup dairy-free as well.
How to Make Leftover Turkey Soup
- In a small saute pan, heat a bit of oil and add the minced onion and diced green peppers.
- Saute just until the onion and peppers begin to soften. Taking this extra step will really help to add depth of flavor to the turkey soup.
- Add the sauce peppers and onions to the slow cooker, along with the leftover turkey, corn, black beans, seasonings, broth, and tomatoes.
- Give everything a good stir to incorporate.
- Set to cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6 hours.
- Open up the slow cooker and add in cubed, softened cream cheese.
- Continue to cook the soup on low for 30 minutes.
- Give everything a good stir to incorporate the cream cheese into the broth before serving.
Serve this Turkey Soup just as you would Tortilla Soup. It is delicious with corn chips, cilantro, diced avocado, and/or shredded cheese. If you happen to have leftover cornbread or corn casserole, that is a natural pairing for the southwestern soup as well.
Instant Pot Directions
This Southwest Leftover Turkey Soup can easily be modified to prepare in the Instant Pot if desired.
- Turn the Instant Pot to saute and add in a bit of oil. Once heated, add in the diced green pepper and onion and saute for 2-3 minutes, or until the onion begins to soften. Once the onion is softened, turn the Instant Pot OFF.
- Add in the stock and scrape up any browned bits off the bottom of the inner pot. This will help to prevent a burn notice from occurring.
- Add in the cooked turkey, beans, corn, seasonings, and diced tomatoes, and stir to combine.
- Cook on high pressure for 5 minutes with a full natural release of pressure.
- Once the pressure has been released, add the cubed cream cheese to the cooked soup and close the lid. Let sit for 5 minutes and then stir everything to combine.
No Instant Pot or Slow Cooker? No problem! You can whip up this leftover turkey soup in under 30 minutes on the stove.
- In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or dutch oven, heat a bit of oil and add the minced onion and diced green peppers, and saute just until they just begin to soften.
- Stir in the stock, turkey, corn, beans, seasonings, and diced tomatoes.
- Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 20-30 minutes. If the soup thickens too much as it simmers, add up to an additional 1 cup of stock.
- After simmering, add the cubed, softened cream cheese to the soup and stir until melted and combined. This should only take a few minutes.
Note on Leftover Turkey
Whenever using leftover poultry to make a soup or casserole, it is best to use leftover turkey that has been cooked or frozen within 3-4 days after preparation, as leftover turkey should only be stored for 3-4 days after cooking. That means if your leftover turkey is more than 4 days old, you want to toss it--not use it to make this soup!
If you happen to have leftover turkey soup, you can store it in a sealed container in the refrigerator. The soup itself can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days PAST the time your turkey was cooked, not the time you prepared your soup.
More Leftover Turkey Recipes
Need more ideas for how to transform your Thanksgiving Leftovers? Be sure to check out all my recipes for Thanksgiving Leftovers.
If you give this Turkey Soup a try, be sure to leave a comment below.
Southwest Turkey Soup
- ½ tablespoon oil
- 1 green pepper diced
- 1 onion diced
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken stock or turkey stock
- 2 cups cooked turkey chopped into bite-size pieces
- 1 cup frozen corn kernels
- 2 (16 oz cans) black beans
- 2 (10.5 oz cans) diced tomatoes with green chiles
- 2 tablespoons taco seasoning
- 4 ounces cream cheese softened
Slow Cooker Instructions
- Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Once heated, add in the diced onion and green pepper and saute for 5 minutes, or until the onion is softened.
- Transfer the sauteed onion and peppers to a slow cooker. Stir in the stock, beans, corn, seasonings, turkey, and tomatoes.
- Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6 hours.
- Add in cream cheese and cook on low for 30 minutes. Stir well after 30 minutes. Serve with desired toppings.
Stove Top Directions
- Heat the oil in a large stock pan over medium heat. Add the diced onions and green peppers to the heated oil and saute for about 5 minutes, or until the onion has begun to soften.
- Stir in the chicken stock, beans, corn, turkey, spices, and tomatoes. Bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Keep in mind you may need to add an additional cup of stock if you notice too much liquid evaporating as the soup cooks.
- Stir in cream cheese and heat through until creamy and well combined. Serve with desired toppings.
Instant Pot Directions
- Turn the Instant Pot to saute and add oil to heat. Once heated, add the onions and peppers and allow veggies to soften for about 3-5 minutes. Once softened, turn the Instant Pot OFF.
- Add in the stock and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the inner pot. Stir in the tomatoes, beans, corn, seasonings, and turkey.
- Seal the Instant Pot lid and set it to cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. Once the cooking time has elapsed, allow the pressure to release naturally.
- Once pressure is released, remove the lid and add in cream cheese. Place the lid back on the pressure cooker for 5 minutes (just to heat through). Stir the cubed cream cheese into the soup and serve. See notes for tips for adding cream cheese for smooth results.
This post was originally published in 2017 and updated with new tips in November 2020.
Made this, more or less, as written. Used turkey stock made from the carcass of our turkey, which had fantastic flavor (and less sodium than commercial broth/stock). Used of canned pantry items made this a breeze to prepare. Will definitely make again!
Happy to hear you enjoyed this turkey soup, Martha!
Love that it’s easy and it was pretty tasty. It has too much taco seasoning in it though, my mouth was on fire 🔥 I’ll make again but next time I’ll probably add a tablespoon and a half instead of two
Hi Carissa! I am so happy to hear you enjoyed the soup. I wonder if your taco seasoning was a spicy blend? That may have caused it to be a bit overwhelming.
It has my 80 year old father and my husband’s approval. Very good and I’ll make it again. It reminds me of a recipe I loved, but can’t have because of shrimp. We put cut up Avocado in the soup with corn chips also cheddar cheese.
I am so happy to hear you and your father enjoyed so much! Thank you for sharing.
Does the soup freeze well?
Hi Steve! I don't recommend freezing the soup, due to the cream cheese addition. It may separate when thawed. However, if you have omitted the addition of cream cheese, feel free to freeze this chili in a freezer-safe container for up to 1 month. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight and reheat as desired.
Loved it! I didn't have any cream cheese so I used a can of evaporated milk instead.
So happy to hear you enjoyed, Kari!
I did the Instant Pot version, and it turned out great! Loved the flavor & not too creamy at all!
So happy to hear you enjoyed, Angela!
This is delicious! I was searching for recipes to use the turkey stock I made on Thanksgiving and found this. I made the InstantPot version, was quick and easy. Family wanted to save the turkey for another favorite recipe so I picked up some shredded rotisserie chicken for it, and I used a favorite homemade taco seasoning. This is a keeper.
YAY! So happy you enjoyed, Stephanie! Thanks for sharing.
One of my favorite soups.
I love hearing this! Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment.