Make this cozy Slow Cooker Turkey Soup using leftover turkey to stretch your leftovers into another delicious meal.
During the cold months, there is nothing better than making soup in the slow cooker. It’s hearty, warm, and a great way to use up whatever you have in the pantry.
This Turkey Soup is one of the best ways to use up leftover Thanksgiving turkey. However, we also use this recipe all the time to use leftover rotisserie chicken or shredded chicken. And it works with raw chicken or turkey - talk about versatility.
Why We Love this Crockpot Turkey Soup
- Leftovers: Everyone hates seeing leftovers go to waste. This soup is a great way to use turkey or chicken leftovers in a whole new meal.
- Easy: Although there is some chopping, this recipe is easy to make and mostly hands-off
- Versatile: Make it with chicken or turkey, swap in different veggies, or use pasta or rice., This turkey soup works with what you have on hand.
Ingredients and Easy Swaps
- Turkey: Most of the time, I make this soup with leftover cooked turkey or chicken but it also works great with raw turkey chicken breast. It also is delicious with ground turkey or ground turkey sausage, just brown it first. It works great with leftovers from this Slow Cooker Boneless Turkey Breast.
- Aromatics: The key to making a rich delicious soup is aromatics. Use onion, garlic, celery, and carrots to create that deep flavor. Feel free to add bell peppers as well.
- Broth: Turkey broth is traditionally used in turkey soup, make it homemade from the turkey carcass. Or swap in chicken or vegetable broth.
- Spices: Add flavor to the soup with a combination of rosemary, thyme, dried basil, bay leaves, black pepper, kosher salt, and fresh parsley. Swap in Italian seasoning or poultry seasoning.
- Noodles: Egg noodles are one of my favorite noodle options in soup, but regular pasta works as well. For a gluten-free option, use rice or potatoes.
Recipe Tips for the Best Slow Cooker Soup
Make sure to follow these tips to make the best turkey soup.
- Add the pasta at the end: Adding the pasta to the soup too early results in mushy pasta.
- Finish with lemon and herbs: To brighten up the flavors before serving, I love to add a big squeeze of lemon juice and some fresh herbs like parsley, chives, or dill.
- Using rice: If you swap in rice instead of pasta, cook it separately and add it to the slow cooker right before serving. Or use frozen or packaged cooked rice. Cooking the rice right in the soup will make it starchy and can result in mushy, almost sticky rice.
- Use the leftover turkey carcass: If you really want a deep and rich turkey flavor, add the carcass right to the slow cooker. For easy clean-up, I like to put it in a mesh soup bag so I can simply lift it out of the soup before adding the noodles.
Variations and Ideas
There are so many ways to make this recipe your own and use up what you have on hand or in the pantry.
- Use chicken: Make this soup year round, swapping in chicken (or leftover chicken) in place of the chicken. It’s delicious with this Chicken Tinga and Greek Chicken.
- Try ground turkey or turkey sausage: Brown some ground turkey or ground turkey sausage and use it in place of the shredded turkey breast.
- Make it gluten-free: Use rice, potatoes, or chickpeas to make a gluten-free version. If using rice, cook it on the side for the best results. Regular or sweet potatoes can be cooked from the beginning, just add them to the crockpot. Chickpeas or white beans can be added in at the end.
- Add more veggies: This soup is great with extra vegetables. Add some butternut squash, kale, or mushrooms at the start of the recipe. Or add some spinach, frozen peas, or zucchini towards the end of the cooking process. It is also delicious with a can of diced tomatoes.
- Add beans: Add some fiber with a can of chickpeas, white beans, or pinto beans.
- Make it creamy: Add ¼ cup of heavy cream to make a creamier version of this soup.
Side Dishes for Soup
This soup is a complete meal on its own, but side dishes are always fun. Here are some favorites:
- Salad: Soup and salad is a classic combination. Serve this alongside Shaved Brussel Sprouts Salad, Arugula Salad, or an easy Spring Mix Salad.
- Bread: Serve this with some easy Two Ingredient Breadsticks, Easy Dinner Rolls, or Garlic Knots.
- Frittatas: Instead of making a sandwich, serve this with a tasty frittata like this Corn and Bacon Frittata or Broccoli Cheese Frittata.
Storage and Freezing
- To store: Let the soup fully cool and then store it in the fridge for up to 4 days. Adjust this time if you are using leftover turkey that had already been in the fridge for a couple of days/.
- To freeze: Freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months in the freezer. Let defrost before reheating. If you are making this to freeze, sometimes I wait and add the pasta when I am reheating the soup for the best texture.
- To reheat: Reheat gently on the stove or in the microwave, being careful not to overcook the noodles.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most common questions about making turkey soup in the crockpot.
It is safe to put the raw turkey in the slow cooker as long it is defrosted. This includes turkey breast, turkey thighs, and turkey legs. Ground turkey can also be added safely to the slow cooker but for the best flavor and texture, it is best to brown it first.
To make slow cooker turkey soup with rice, cook the rice separately and add it to the soup right before serving for the best texture. If you don't want to cook the rice separately, use frozen rice or packaged rice to speed up the process.
Stock is made from bones and therefore usually has a better flavor than broth. However, it can be hard to find stock unless you make it at home. If stock is an option, this soup will have a richer flavor. But if you can't find stock, broth works just fine.
Slow Cooker Turkey Soup
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- 1 onion, diced (yellow is best)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 3 celery ribs, chopped
- 1.5 lbs boneless skinless turkey breast (or 3 cups leftover cooked turkey)
- 8 cups turkey broth (or chicken broth)
- 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp dried basil
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 Salt to taste (probably 1-2 teaspoons, depending on how salty the broth is)
- 8 oz egg noodles
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped (or more)
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
Use rice: Cook the rice separately and add it to the slow cooker right before serving. Or use frozen or packaged cooked rice and add it in the last 15 minutes of cooking. Cooking the rice right in the soup will make it starchy and can result in mushy, almost sticky rice.
Use potatoes: Add them to the slow cooker along with the carrots and celery.
Add more veggies: This soup is great with extra vegetables. Add some butternut squash, kale, or mushrooms at the start of the recipe. Or add some spinach, frozen peas, or zucchini towards the end of the cooking process. It is also delicious with a can of diced tomatoes.
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