Are you 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 Creamy Turkey Soup is full of flavor and incredibly simple to make. Directions for the slow cooker, stovetop, and Instant Pot.
When it comes to Thanksgiving, I am always swimming in leftovers! And while I love Thanksgiving 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.
Reasons to Love This Southwest Leftover Turkey Soup
- Transforms Leftover Turkey. This hearty turkey soup is a delicious way to transform leftover turkey into something new and delicious that tastes NOTHING like Thanksgiving! After a huge feast, we tend to want something new, right?!
- Amazing Flavor. 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.
- Easy Recipe. This leftover turkey soup is incredibly easy to make, thanks to the fact we are starting out with leftover turkey. You can let it simmer on the stove, cook it in the slow cooker while you are out shopping, or quickly whip this turkey soup up using the Instant Pot.
- Versatile. You can adapt the spices and ingredients for this turkey soup based on what you have at your house. And you can even use leftover rotisserie chicken in place of the leftover turkey.
Notes on Ingredients
- Turkey: I prepare this soup using leftover Roasted Turkey or leftover Instant Pot turkey breast.
- 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.
∗ important note about 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!
Tips for Making the Best Leftover Turkey Soup
The following tips are provided to help you achieve perfect results. You will find the detailed instructions in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Saute the peppers and onions. Taking this extra step will really help to add depth of flavor to the turkey soup.
- Use room-temperature cream cheese. In order for the cream cheese to melt evenly into your soup, it needs to be added cubed, and softened. If you tried to add cream cheese directly from the refrigerator, your soup may end up with chunks of cream cheese, instead of a nice creamy, smooth broth.
Serve this Turkey Soup just as you would Chicken 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.
Storage & Reheating Instructions
- Refrigerate: Store cooled leftover turkey soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4 days PAST the time the turkey was cooked (or thawed), not the time you prepared your soup.
- Freeze: I don't recommend freezing this soup due to the addition of cream cheese.
- Reheat: Reheat several portions in the slow cooker on low heat for 1-3 hours OR over low heat in a heavy-duty saucepan on the stove. Alternatively, reheat individual servings in a heat-safe bowl in the microwave for 60-second intervals until warmed through.
More Leftover Turkey Recipes
- Turkey Tetrazzini
- Copycat Panera Turkey Sandwich
- Turkey Club Wrap
- Thanksgiving Egg Rolls
- Instant Pot Turkey Noodle Soup
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 Southwest Turkey Soup a try, be sure to leave a comment and review below.
Southwest Leftover Turkey Soup
- ½ tablespoon olive oil or canola oil
- 1 medium green pepper diced
- 1 small yellow onion diced
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken stock or turkey stock
- 2 cups cooked turkey chopped or shredded 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.