This hearty Turkey Orzo Soup recipe is a perfect way to use up leftover holiday turkey in a comforting, delicious soup. Savory turkey and vegetables simmer in a rich broth with tender orzo pasta for a satisfying soup that makes leftovers taste even better the second time around.
One of the best parts of Thanksgiving is all of the leftovers! Pie for breakfast on Black Friday is one of my favorite things! But I also love all of the easy meals that I can get from the leftover turkey meat! Turkey pot pie is always on my list, and so is this hearty turkey soup.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
Great Use of Thanksgiving Leftovers - Turkey orzo soup is a great use for leftover Thanksgiving turkey, as well as the extra vegetables you have from making the side dishes.
Full of Flavor - Aromatic vegetables like onion, garlic, and thyme build so much flavor into the broth base. You'll taste all these aromatics in each sip of the flavorful turkey broth.
Simple Yet Satisfying - Though easy to make with simple ingredients, this tasty soup fills you up with protein, veggies, and hearty pasta. It's satisfying comfort food made simple.
Easy and Fast - This recipe is ready in under 30 minutes, from start to finish. It's even faster if you prepped your veggies ahead.
See the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the full list of ingredients, including measurements.
Turkey - You can use roasted turkey breast if you prefer white meat. It also works fine with dark meat or a mix of both. Cooked chicken can be used instead of turkey.
Orzo - Orzo is a rice-shaped pasta. It cooks up quickly and has great texture!
Vegetables - A classic mirepoix (chopped carrots, celery, and onion) serves as the foundation for this soup.
Herbs - For the best flavor use fresh garlic and thyme. Though dried can be used if that's all you have on hand.
Wine - This recipe was intentionally designed to use up Thanksgiving leftovers, so if you served a white wine then use that in this soup! If you don't have wine on hand, a few tablespoons of lemon juice is a great substitute.
Broth - I tested this recipe using boxed chicken broth. But homemade chicken or turkey broth makes it even more delicious. Scroll down a little for instructions on how to make your own stock.
Pro Tip: When chopping your vegetables for Thanksgiving stuffing go ahead and prepare what you need for this recipe. That way you don't have to bring out your cutting board again.
How to Make Turkey Orzo Soup
1) Sauté Vegetables
- Heat olive oil over medium heat then cook onions, carrots, and celery for 5-6 minutes.
- I recommend using a 6-quart Dutch oven or a large stock pot.
- Sauté until softened but not browned.
- Add the garlic and fresh thyme in the last 30 seconds.
2) Add the Liquids
- Deglaze the pan with white wine to scrape up any browned bits. Lemon juice can also be used.
- Then pour in the chicken broth or turkey stock and bring to a boil.
3) Stir in Turkey and Orzo
- Add the pre-cooked diced or shredded turkey along with the pasta.
- Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring often, until the orzo is cooked al dente.
- Add the salt, pepper, and fresh parsley right before serving.
How to Make Homemade Turkey Stock
Boxed chicken broth works perfectly well in this recipe, but if you want to use all of your turkey, making the broth from scratch is pretty easy and makes an extra flavorful soup.
- Place the leftover turkey carcass, including the neck (discard the organs) in a large pot.
- Add 1 large carrot, 1 onion, and 1 celery rib, each cut into quarters.
- Create an aromatics sachet by wrapping 2 thyme sprigs, 3 parsley sprigs, 6 black peppercorns, and 1 bay leaf in cheesecloth and tying it with twine.
- Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of salt over the turkey, then cover it completely with water. (It should take 12-14 cups).
- Heat the broth using medium high heat until it starts lightly boiling, then reduce to low heat and simmer uncovered for 2-4 hours. The bubbles should be sporadic and should never come to a full boil.
- Strain the broth through a fine mesh sieve. Pick out any remaining turkey meat to use in the soup.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cool and refrigerate for 3-4 days or freeze for months.
Variations and Substitutions
Creamy Turkey Orzo Soup - After the orzo has simmered for 8-9 minutes, stir in ¼ cup of heavy cream.
Chicken Orzo Soup - Substitute shredded rotisserie chicken for the cooked turkey.
Different Pasta Shapes - Replace the orzo with other small pasta like ditalini, mini shells, or elbows. Adjust the cook times according to package directions.
Turkey Rice Soup - Replace the orzo with 1 cup of long-grain white rice. Cook for 15 minutes, or until the rice is tender.
Added Vegetables - Mix in some greens by adding 1 cup of fresh spinach or kale with the orzo. Or add a cup of diced potatoes or butternut squash with the carrots, celery, and onions. If using potatoes, simmer them for 5 minutes before adding the turkey and orzo.
Lemon - You can replace the wine with 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, or you could make the recipe using the wine and add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice when serving. It adds a nice brightness.
Parmesan - For extra flavor, sprinkle each bowl with freshly grated Parmesan cheese when serving.
More Seasonings - Add 1 teaspoon dried oregano or 1 tablespoon fresh oregano along with the garlic and thyme. Or replace the thyme with 2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning.
Pro Tip: If you like a brothier soup just add more broth to suit your preference.
Storage and Reheating
Store leftover turkey orzo soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Leftover soup can be reheated on the stovetop over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until hot throughout. For individual portions, microwave leftovers in a microwave-safe bowl for 2-3 minutes, checking frequently, until heated through.
The flavors of the soup develop even more over the next couple of days, making leftovers taste even better! The orzo will absorb some of the liquid over time. Add a little bit of additional broth or water before reheating.
You can even freeze leftover turkey soup! Let the soup cool to room temperature before transferring to a freezer bag. Then freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.
What to Serve with Turkey Orzo Soup
This could be a simple one-pot dinner but it can also be paired with a simple salad.
If you have dinner rolls leftover from Thanksgiving warm them up and serve with some butter. Or use your leftover sweet potatoes to make these easy sweet potato rolls (they just use 2 ingredients)!
Yes, this is an easy recipe to double if you are feeding a crowd. Follow the same directions using 2x the ingredients.
Yes, chicken stock is an equal substitution for chicken broth. It will produce a slightly thicker soup. Some stock uses less sodium than broth, so taste your soup and adjust the seasonings, as needed.
Yes, to make this in the slow cooker simply place the carrots, onions, celery, garlic, thyme, wine, and chicken broth in the crock pot. Cover with a lid and cook on HIGH for 2-3 hours or LOW for 4-6 hours. Add the turkey and orzo, then cook an additional 20-30 minutes, or until the orzo is tender.
More Soup Recipes
Let me know how you like this recipe by leaving a review! And follow along on Instagram @stateofdinner for behind-the-scenes and to be among the first to know when new recipes post!
Turkey Orzo SoupRecipe by:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup diced carrots about 2 medium
- 1 cup diced yellow onion 1 medium
- ½ cup diced celery 2 stalks
- 3 cloves garlic minced (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme or ¾ teaspoon dried
- ⅓ cup white wine or 3 tablespooons lemon juice
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup dry orzo pasta
- 3 cups chopped or shredded cooked turkey
- ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper or to taste
- 2 tablespoons parsley chopped
- Heat olive oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven or stock pan. Add the chopped onions, carrots, celery and saute for 5-6 minutes, until the vegetables are soft.1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 cup diced carrots, 1 cup diced yellow onion, ½ cup diced celery
- Add the minced garlic and thyme and cook for an additional 30 seconds.3 cloves garlic, 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
- Pour the wine into the pan and scrape up any caramelized bits in the pan.⅓ cup white wine
- Add the broth and bring to a boil over high heat.6 cups chicken broth
- Once the broth has reached a slow boil, reduce to medium-low heat and add the orzo and shredded turkey.1 cup dry orzo pasta, 3 cups chopped or shredded cooked turkey
- Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add the salt, black pepper, and parsley before serving.½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper, 2 tablespoons parsley
- Store refrigerated for up to 4 days.
- This soup can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.
- Reheat on the stovetop over medium heat, or in the microwave using 1-minute intervals.
- Place the carrots, onions, celery, garlic, thyme, wine, and chicken broth in the crock pot.
- Cover with a lid and cook on HIGH for 2-3 hours or LOW for 4-6 hours.
- Add the turkey and orzo, then cook an additional 20-30 minutes, or until the orzo is tender.