The One Thanksgiving Tradition I’ll Never Give Up

Soup’s on.

Gumbo-Style Turkey Soup
Photo:

GREG DUPREE

My family has a few Thanksgiving-related traditions that go beyond turkey day. From decorating for the upcoming holidays to peppermint milkshakes and not Christmas shopping, the list of must dos (and at least one don’t) that have become mainstays in our Thanksgiving week seems to grow by the year. But, perhaps the most prominent of these little rituals is the leftover Gumbo-Style Turkey Soup, which is a tradition as highly anticipated and beloved as any of the others.

Before we get too far, let’s not get bogged down in what constitutes a true gumbo. Consider this your disclaimer: It’s gumbo-inspired. Key word being inspired. If the word gumbo is tripping you up, just go ahead and call it Leftover Turkey Soup. You have our full permission to take liberties with the name as long as you promise to whip up a batch in those first post-feast days.

My family’s Thanksgiving menu usually consists of two turkeys, one baked and the other smoked, and both work wonderfully in this recipe. Which one I use on any given year is decided solely upon surplus. The process for the soup is quick, but it does require a roux. If you’ve never made one before, this is the perfect recipe to start with. It should take less than 10 minutes to reach the perfect caramel color. The one clincher? Just don’t let it burn.

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Including the roux, the whole soup-making process should take about half an hour, maybe a bit more if you’re simultaneously enjoying a glass of wine and good conversation.

Now, here’s the thing. This recipe calls for our homemade Turkey Broth Recipe. We get that you’ll probably be over cooking by soup time, but that’s just another reason to make the broth well in advance of Thanksgiving. It will take your gravy up a notch too, so you may want to double it when you make it early. If you find yourself in a pinch, you can grab store-bought turkey stock or chicken stock. Don’t let going store-bought stand in the way of making this soup, whatever you do.

Now that we’ve talked roux, turkey, and broth, the rest of the cast is relatively straightforward: andouille sausage, Worcestershire sauce, green bell pepper, celery, onion, and garlic, plus frozen cut okra (so easy), diced tomatoes, and Creole seasoning. The result is a one-dish wonder that will set your post-Thanksgiving fixings up for success. Serve it with a stuffing sandwich (for the indulgent) or a plate of your favorite sides—there’s no wrong way and no judgement when it comes to your leftover journey. Just be sure to give this crowd-loving soup a try. It might just become your new favorite Thanksgiving tradition too. 

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