This soup has such a fresh zesty flavor, no one will believe it is made from leftovers.

By Patricia S York
April 09, 2020
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Gumbo-Style Turkey Soup
Credit: Greg DuPree

There is no need for me to belabor the point – everyone knows that there is always way too much turkey left over after the holiday meals or a Sunday supper. Whether we cooked a bird that was too big for our crowd, or whether the traditional side dishes were so fabulous that nobody ate the turkey, we are left with a lot of meat to bag up, hand out, freeze, and use up in leftovers. Thank goodness there is no end to the ways you can use turkey in leftovers – from sandwiches (use cranberry sauce as spread) to tetrazzini casseroles, to hearty and satisfying turkey soups. Learning to love our leftovers is one of the first thing our Southern mothers and grandmothers taught us. Here is a warm, comforting, and delicious way to enjoy the remains of any feast.

Make a Turkey Stock

After you have stripped the meat from the turkey carcass, put those bones to use and make a great turkey stock, which is just as versatile as chicken or vegetable stock, with a deeper, richer flavor that works in so many recipes. This turkey stock will make a delicious, rich base for all sorts of soups and stews, from leftover turkey soup to chicken and dumplings. Use the amount of stock you need and freeze the rest for down the road.

Get Ready to Cook

Really, you can pick any chicken soup recipe and just use your leftover turkey instead of chicken. But with all the attention given the turkey during the holidays, wouldn’t you say it deserves its own recipe? Try this recipe for a zesty, Gumbo-Style Turkey Soup, packed with all the flavors of an authentic gumbo, such as andouille sausage, peppers, and okra. Andouille sausage is a coarsely ground smoked sausage used in Cajun and Creole recipes. If you can’t find andouille, use your favorite smoked sausage. Another reason this recipe has such an authentic gumbo flavor is because you start with a roux. When cooking, be sure to allow the roux enough time to develop a deep caramel color. This will serve as a delicious flavor base for your soup.

Once your roux has reached the right stage you add your other ingredients and seasonings – onions, bell peppers, garlic, okra, tomatoes, etc., all those fabulous tastes and textures that will have your kitchen smelling like a walk down the streets of New Orleans. After stirring in your homemade turkey stock and leftover turkey, all you have to do is make a pot of rice and let the soup simmer. See how easy that is?

WATCH: How to Make a Roux with Emeril

Emeril Lagasse shares his step-by-step technique for making a roux, a foundation of Creole cooking.

As I said before, just because it is leftover doesn’t mean it can’t be special. f you can make it with leftover chicken, you can make it with leftover turkey.