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Creamy Turkey and Rice Soup

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When a comfort food craving strikes, make this creamy turkey and rice soup recipe! This soup is a great way to use leftover holiday turkey, but it’s so good, you’ll make it year-round. Double the batch, this soup freezes well.

spoon lifting out of a soup mug filled with the turkey and wild rice soup

There is nothing like a good creamy soup recipe. A creamy soup that is also satisfying enough for hearty eaters and can be made with leftovers? Even better. You can double the batch and freeze some for later? Sold!

All that and more is this creamy turkey and rice soup recipe.

Turkey is not a seasonal thing around here. With the Godfather’s popular smoked turkey and pellet grill turkey breast recipes seeing traffic year-round, I’d imagine we aren’t the only ones who love a good turkey any time.

The leftovers are my personal favorite part, and this creamy turkey and rice soup has been a menu request for 2 years running now.

horizontal image showing two bowls of soup on a blue mottled tabletop with a grey background

This is that “love at first bite” soup you’ll gladly eat daily until it’s gone. Maybe even twice a day (it’s happened). That’s good because the ingredient list looks a little intimidating. I promise it’s so worth it though.

There are a few shortcuts you can take too, and we’ll talk about those.

Just know that if you’re coming across this recipe and are not in a soup mood, save it somewhere handy because you don’t want to lose this!

Is this a good soup to use leftover turkey?

Yes! The soup is a great way to use leftover turkey. It would probably taste good with chicken too.

The reason it’s so good as a way to use leftovers is that you can use more than just the turkey meat.

It frosts my cookies to read the suggestions for making turkey broth using leftover turkey carcass around the holidays and then… no recipes to use the broth!

overhead photo of the two bowls of turkey and rice soup with a hand cupping the front bowl... to eat it. Because it's delicious.

For a well-seasoned turkey, you’re going to have flavorful broth. Use it in something designed to highlight the wonderful flavors of your broth!

This soup is a great place to use homemade turkey broth, as is my turkey tortilla soup. One creamy, one not, let’s make both!

Of course, if you don’t feel like making broth or don’t have any, use chicken or vegetable broth from the store, or dissolve a little stock base in water. I do it too, sometimes right after holidays when the turkey carcass sits in my freezer to make broth later.

Do what works for you.

Creamy Turkey and Rice Soup Ingredients & Substitution Options…

We already discussed options for the broth and swapping chicken for turkey in a pinch. But since this recipe is a family favorite we’ve made a few times, I’ve made my share of modifications. Here are the ones that work well…

For the vegetable mix, if you have carrots and celery on hand, fresh is great. I’ve also used mixed frozen vegetables instead. The classic combination with carrots, peas, and sometimes corn is great!

One of the small bags from the grocery store’s freezer section will do. If you measure from a huge bag like I do, 1 1/2 to 2 cups. It doesn’t have to be exact, it’s what looks good to you.

I have never substituted for the flour in making the roux for this soup. That means this soup contains gluten.

If you have someone gluten-sensitive in your house, the lovely people at Bon Appetit have broken down the hows and whys of substitution. It looks like the King Arthur Baking Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose flour blend is a 1:1 substitute you can use for this recipe.

You can use fresh or dried herbs for the recipe. If you’re using fresh, double the amounts listed. Feel free to omit any flavors you don’t like, and adjust based on what you have and prefer.

The recipe calls for wild rice. Wild rice is a type of rice native to the Great Lakes region of the United States. It has a lovely, chewy texture, and nutty flavor.

If you don’t have wild rice, brown rice is a great substitute. Barley or farro also work well.

Tips for getting the perfect rice texture in soup…

This is the biggest challenge I think most cooks face when making rice dishes. My mom got around it by only feeding us parboiled rice growing up. She’d boil it forever, drain it, and since it was parboiled, it didn’t turn to mush.

We have learned better now, but mostly through my own experimentation and botched “something with rice” recipes.

You can make this soup with cooked OR uncooked rice. Craziness, right? Most recipes make you choose one or the other.

But when we are making dinner and don’t plan ahead, we do what we need to, right? Right.

The trick is in adjusting the amount of broth. Wild rice and brown rice both absorb a good amount, so you’ll make the soup up to a point, then add the rice, simmer until the rice is basically cooked, then finish the recipe.

If you’re using white rice, pick a long grain variety, and know that it will get a little mushy after a day in the fridge sitting in broth if there are leftovers. An alternative to this is to stir in cooked white once the soup is ready and heating until it’s warmed through.

This soup is the PERFECT place to use leftover rice too! If you have extra rice on hand from a previous meal, stir it in at the end.

And if you’re just not comfortable trying to cook the rice in the soup broth, make the rice on the side. This is what I do when I freeze the soup and I’m not using wild or brown rice. I can freeze those in the soup and they hold texture just fine. If you’re making this soup with white rice, make the soup and rice separately, freeze the soup without any rice, then add cooked rice to the thawed soup as you reheat.

top view of a spoon over a mug of soup. The mug is blurred and the photo is closer to the camera lens and in focus.

I hope you love this soup recipe as much as we do, darlings! As always, it’s a blessing to share beloved recipes from our home with you… enjoy!

spoon lifting out of a soup mug filled with the turkey and wild rice soup

Creamy Turkey and Rice Soup

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

When a comfort food craving strikes, make this creamy turkey and rice soup recipe! This soup is a great way to use leftover holiday turkey, but it's so good, you'll make it year-round. Double the batch, this soup freezes well.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, peeled and diced (see notes)
  • 1 small onion (about 1 cup), diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (2-3 cloves)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4-6 cups chicken or turkey broth, divided (see notes)
  • 3/4 cups uncooked wild rice *OR* 2 cups cooked wild rice (see notes)
  • 1 1/2 cups cubed turkey (see notes)
  • 1 cup half and half (see notes)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions

  1. In a large soup pot with a lid, melt the butter and heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the carrots, celery, garlic, and onion and cook for 5-7 minutes until fragrant and bit translucent.
  3. Whisk in the flour and cook for 2-3 minutes to thicken.
  4. Slowly pour in 4 or 5 cups of the broth. Use 4 cups if you're using cooked rice in this recipe, 5 cups for uncooked rice. Add your bay leaf, thyme, tarragon, salt, and parsley.
  5. If you are using uncooked rice, add the rice now and bring the soup to a simmer (not a boil). Cover and cook for 20-30 minutes until the rice is tender. The exact time depends on the variety of rice you are using.
  6. If you are using cooked rice, add the turkey and bring the soup to a simmer. Allow the soup to simmer for about 10 minutes. Then stir in the rice and cream and allow to simmer an additional 10 minutes.
  7. Adjust seasonings to taste, if needed, and enjoy!

Notes

  • For the carrots and celery, there's not an exact amount you need to aim for. For typical grocery store sizes for these vegetables, you'll end up with between 2-3 cups of vegetables. And if you don't have fresh vegetables on hand, a small bag of mixed frozen vegetables works perfectly.
  • The HUGE range for the broth depends on if you're using uncooked or cooked rice. For cooked rice, you'll only need 4-4.5 cups of broth depending on how brothy you like your soup. For uncooked rice, you'll need 5-6 cups of rice to account for the broth the rice will absorb during cooking.
  • Cooked rice is 1000 times easier, BUT since I've not planned ahead, had leftovers or quick-cooking rice but still wanted this soup, you have options. And if you don't have a full 2 cups of cooked rice, it's fine. Even 1 1/2 cups is a good amount.
  • If you don't have wild rice, brown rice, long-grain white rice, farro, or barley are all great substitutes.
  • Feel free to add a little more or less turkey depending on how much leftover you have on hand.
  • The half and half makes this recipe extra luscious and indulgent. But if you'd like a lighter option, I use 3/4 cup low fat milk and 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (usually fat-free or low fat). You can use heavy cream (not lighter, but there's less of it) or sour cream in place of the Greek yogurt. We have tested every single one of these variations and the results are all good!

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