Turkey & Noodle Soup… a great use for leftover turkey

I grew up in a house where Thanksgiving dinner at random times throughout the year was not uncommon. My mom loved preparing Thanksgiving dinner. From all the sides to a big ol’ turkey, she loved baking it, serving it and eating it.

She usually had half a dozen frozen turkeys in her deep freeze. I almost think she had extra freezers just to hold all the turkeys she’d buy on sale around Thanksgiving. It was also not uncommon to find a big semi-frozen turkey floating in the bathtub, thawing out before she baked it.

My friend Debbie L. posted this on her social media a few minutes ago…  I didn’t ask permission before snagging it, but ironically, my mother’s name was also Debbie L. and THIS could’ve been HER freezer! I love me some turkey-lovin’ Debbie L.’s ❤


Having grown up with a turkey-baking fanatic for a mother, I never baked a turkey on my own until I was 35 years old. There was no need for me to bake a big bird when she was doing it, and much of my adulthood had been spent as a side-dish bringer. I perfected my whipped garlic mashed potatoes, and the standard green bean casserole, in my non-turkey baking days.

For my first foray into uncharted turkeydom, I chose a small bird… about seven pounds. I followed all the directions I could find, and consulted my mom many times by phone to make sure I was doing it right. I still remember her chuckling as she said, “I can’t believe you’re this old and have never baked a turkey. Whose daughter are you?!”

My very first Thanksgiving turkey. It was delicious.
Selfie with that very first turkey… back before selfies were so popular. I used an actual digital camera for this picture because ten years ago, I still had a flip-phone without a camera.

That year, I made homemade cornbread dressing (because I didn’t stuff the turkey), mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and gravy with the giblets. Fresh cranberries, not canned cranberry gel that I’d grown up on. Salad and rolls, too. If the turkey was a disaster, at least there’d be plenty of other things to eat.

We packed it all into the motorhome and hit the road for a long weekend from the Hill Country to West Texas. We stayed in Marathon and at Big Bend National Park. We visited Terlingua and Fort Davis on our long-way back home after the holiday, never even dreaming that our “getaway” destinations would be our “neighborhood” before too long. And, we had Thanksgiving dinner, every single day of our trip.

I don't even mind that everything is touching.
Random Thanksgiving plate.

One of my favorite post-Thanksgiving dinner meals is a bowl or a plate filled with layers of mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberries, dressing, and shredded turkey, all smothered in giblet gravy. I like to think I invented the Turkey Dinner Bowl one-bowl meal long before “bowl meals” became popular, but I know I’m not the only person to do that sort of thing.

My favorite way to eat leftover Thanksgiving food.
My favorite way to eat leftover Thanksgiving food.

Fast-forward through ten more Thanksgivings, and I’ve yet to follow up my maiden turkey-baking voyage because I married a man who loves to cook. I guess I passed a test with that first Thanksgiving meal.

And really, why would I fight him to cook the turkey when he does it so well? I’ve gotten pretty good at scalloped potatoes (when we don’t do the mashed), as well as the fresh cranberries. I’ve gone back to being the side-disher and I’m just fine with that. Did I mention that he even bakes the pies, with homemade pie crusts? Yes, I am thankful every day, not just today.

One of our early Thanksgivings… and all I did was clean the beans and make the cranberries.
Giblets from last year’s turkey. This made some good gravy.
Homemade cranberry sauce beats any can out there.
Fresh cranberries are so pretty!
Cornbread dressing on the side.
Cornbread dressing. NOT STUFFING. Texas, y’all.

There’s plenty you can do with the leftover turkey, rather than continue to eat Thanksgiving dinner over and over again or making my favorite Turkey Dinner Bowls. Save your carcass for making broth, and put on a big pot of Turkey & Noodle Soup. After all the cooking you did, this soup couldn’t be easier.

My second favorite way to eat Thanksgiving leftovers... Turkey & Noodle Soup.
I should say that this is not my photo – I think it’s a Weight Watchers photo. But, this IS MY SOUP!


Turkey & Noodle Soup

Turkey & Noodle Soup

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup sliced celery
  • 1 cup peeled and sliced carrots
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 6 cups chicken or turkey broth
  • 3 cups chopped or shredded cooked turkey
  • 6 ounces dry egg noodles
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the onion, celery and carrots and season the vegetables with salt and pepper to taste.

Cook for 4-6 minutes or until vegetables are just softened.

Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more. Add the thyme, broth and turkey to the pot and bring to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Add the noodles to the pot and cook for the time that’s listed on the package. Stir in the parsley and add more salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Printed with the permission of the Alpine Avalanche



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