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.
I love the idea and look of this recipe and can’t wait to try it! I wonder if you think I could use plain Greek yogurt in place of, and in the same quantity as, the cream cheese?
Thanks for any thoughts!
Hi Beth! The issue with adding yogurt to the soup is that it may curdle, to prevent this, you'll need to temper the yogurt to avoid curdling. Add a small amount of warm-but-not-boiling soup to a bowl, whisk in the yogurt, then add the mixture back into the soup. Hope that helps.
That helps tremendously!!! Thanks for getting back with me and I’m off to give this a try!
This turned out great—thanks Kristen! Love this recipe as an alternative to turkey noodle soup for using up leftover turkey!
This recipe was delicious!!! Super quick and very easy! Thank you so much! I will definitely be making this one again 👍🏼
I love hearing you enjoyed Karla! Thank you for sharing!
Most delicious soup I have ever made and super easy.
I love hearing you enjoyed Jacqueline! Thanks for sharing your review.
If you've got leftover turkey, you should have a leftover turkey carcass and should make your own turkey bone broth.
That is of course a great idea Linae. You can follow my instructions for chicken stock to make turkey broth if you desire.
Excellent. I used dried great northern beans because that is all I had. I made it in an instant pot. I cooked the beans in the instant pot first then followed the instant pot instructions above for the soup. I only had one can of 10 oz can of rotel tomatoes so I add that and two 14.5 ounce cans of tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano. I used 4 chicken bullion cubes with 3.5 cups of water for my chicken stock. I had 6oz. of cream cheese open so I just added all of that at the end. Be sure to stir after adding the cream cheese so it melts. I wanted my bowl a little more spicey so I add some Frank's hot sauce to my bowl of soup. I put shredded pepper jack cheese and diced avocado on top of my bowl of soup. Also put Asian style crunchy noodles on the top. Delicious
Hi Beverly! I am so so glad you enjoyed so much! I love topping this soup with tortilla chips, so I can see how the Asian noodles would be delicious!
Hi, This does sound like a great soup! I’m excited to try it. Have you ever made it without the green peppers? I am not a fan of green peppers in soups, salads or chili as I feel it takes over and that’s all you taste. I’m wondering if a little celery would be a good substitution? Thanks for your thoughts.
Hi there! It will be great without the pepper! I would just omit and not replace with celery. EnjoY!
Delicious flavor. Really good.
I am so glad you enjoyed Dino 🙂
Just finished dinner and now we have a new after-Thanksgiving tradition! Everyone loved it especially my husband who told me twice that he really liked it. I did have a problem getting the cream cheese to melt even though I took it out of the fridge when I started cooking the soup. Do you use the brick style cream cheese or the stuff in the tub?
I have tried several of your IP recipes and have had wonderful success. Such a blessing to have so many simple, delicious recipes in one place! Thank you!!
Hi Connie! I am so glad you enjoyed this recipe so much and my other Instant Pot recipes. That makes my heart so happy 🙂 As for the cream cheese, I use a brick--but at these cooler temperatures I would doubt it would soften in just 20 minutes. I like to have it out for several hours. A quick work around is the place the brick (still wrapped in foil) in warm water while the soup is cooking. Hope that helps.
If I want to use uncooked black beans (as opposed to canned beans), do I need to cook them in the instant pot before adding to the soup?
Yes, Laura I would. Here is my recipe for cooking beans in the instant pot. I hope you enjoy.
Followed instant pot receipe, have chunks of cream cheese, not smooth or creamy at all.
Hi Kim! I am sorry your soup was not smooth. In the future it would help to chunk up your cream cheese and let it get to room temperature.
I made this recipe. I added cheese and a little corn starch slurry to add just a bit of body. I chopped cloves fresh and loved the soup. Great taste and flavor.
That sounds delicious Tim! Thank you for sharing your modifications.