Creamy Orzo Turkey Soup
This creamy orzo turkey soup is my favorite way to use up leftover turkey after the holidays! With vegetables, white wine, sage, and thyme, it’s cozy, filling, and perfect for a chilly night. Plus it’s one-pot and only takes 30 minutes to make!
I don’t know about you, but after my second leftover-turkey-stuffing-provolone-cranberry-mayo-on-sourdough sandwich, I basically don’t want to eat turkey again for another 365 days. But soup, on the other hand, I could probably eat in some form for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. So here we are. Combining both leftover turkey and cozy soup for the perfect meal to munch on while you put up the Christmas tree!
This year, we’re leaving for our honeymoon (!!!) the day after Thanksgiving, so my holiday leftovers situation will be in the form of a breakfast turkey sandwich on the plane. But, if you want to escape the cold, snuggle up on the couch, and watch When Harry Met Sally, then you’re going to want a bowl of this soup on your lap, trust me. I’ll be thinking of you while I sip cocktails on a beach in Curacao. 😎
Creamy orzo turkey soup is the best
It really bums me out that people throw away their leftover turkey when they could be making soup. Or even turkey pot pie! This soup is absolutely delicious, and it’s great cause it uses up other ingredients you’ll probably have sitting in your fridge after the holidays. (Veggies, herbs, wine, cream). It has so much flavor thanks to a lots of garlic, herbs, and a glug of white wine. And while wild rice would be delicious in this recipe, orzo cooks up way quicker and adds a nice texture.
This soup is a one-pot wonder and luckily comes together in less than 30 minutes. (Because let’s be honest, the last thing you want to do after Thanksgiving is spend more time at the stove). It’s comforting and hearty, easy and filling. Keep this one in your back pocket, you’re going to need it later!
The ingredient list
Here’s everything you’ll need to make creamy orzo turkey soup! Hopefully, you’ll have most of these ingredients laying around after the holidays. But if not, everything is pretty basic!
- Leftover turkey – you can use dark meat (like thighs or legs), white meat (like breast), or a mix of both.
- Veggies – shallots (or onion), carrots, and celery.
- Spices & herbs – garlic, sage, thyme & a bay leaf.
- Dry white wine – for a little pop of acidity and flavor.
- Turkey stock – I know this isn’t always available in stores. If you can’t find it and don’t want to make your own with the leftover turkey carcass, you can use turkey bouillon or chicken stock.
- Orzo – this is a small, rice-shaped pasta that adds a nice texture to the soup. Orzo is my favorite but any small pasta will do!
- Cream – obviously to add creaminess to this dish. If you want a lighter soup, you can always leave this out.
- Kitchen basics – unsalted butter, olive oil, Kosher salt, & freshly-ground black pepper.
How to make this soup
This little one-pot situation comes together in less than 30 minutes! Here’s how to make this recipe.
- First, heat a pat of butter and a drizzle of olive oil in a large soup pot. Add the shallots, carrots, celery, pepper, and a pinch of salt. Sauté until the veggies are soft and brown on the edges.
- Next, add the garlic, sage, and thyme. Cook until everything smells amazing.
- Deglaze the pan with the white wine and reduce by half. Then, add the turkey stock and a bay leaf. Bring it to a boil.
- Add the orzo and boil until it’s al dente.
- During the last few minutes of cooking, add the cream and leftover turkey until everything is warm. Spoon into bowls and enjoy!
Can I use chicken instead?
Totally! You don’t have to have leftovers on hand to make this soup. If you just want to make it as a cozy dinner, chicken is a great substitute. My favorite is to use rotisserie chicken because it mimics the roasted turkey flavor. But, you can also use leftover shredded chicken!
More variations & substitutions
If you want to switch things up, creamy orzo turkey soup is super versatile. Here are a few ideas!
- Veggies – substitute the shallots for 1 small sweet onion. You can also add sautéed mushrooms or a handful of spinach.
- Herbs – try using rosemary, parsley, or tarragon in place of the sage and/or thyme.
- Dry white wine – if you don’t have wine on hand, you can always leave this out. Try adding a squeeze of lemon juice before you add the cream for acidity.
- Orzo – use another small pasta. Or, you can always use wild rice for a classic version. Wild rice takes a while to cook, so keep that in mind!
This soup is a meal on its own but I always like having a side dish or two! Here are some of my favorite side dishes to serve with creamy orzo turkey soup.
- Crusty bread or dinner rolls
- A light green salad
- Grilled cheese
- Leftover Cornbread Stuffing with Sausage & Sage
- Charred Broccoli with Breadcrumbs & Pecorino
- Lemony Green Beans with Pine Nuts & Garlic
Storing & reheating leftovers
If you have any leftovers, let the soup cool completely. Then, store it in an airtight container for up to 3 days. I actually love the leftovers because the flavors have time to meld! If you’re worried about the pasta getting soggy, make it separately and add it to individual bowls of soup.
To reheat the soup, microwave it in a microwave-safe bowl until it’s warm. But, my favorite way is to reheat it on the stove! Just heat it in a small saucepan, stirring frequently, until it’s simmering.
Tips & tricks
- First, let the veggies cook for at least 5-6 minutes. You want the veggies to be brown on the edges for the best flavor and texture. Remember, brown = flavor!
- Try making your own turkey stock with the leftover carcass. This is totally optional, but one of my favorite ways to use up every single bit of the leftovers!
- If you’re worried about soggy leftover orzo, just cook it separately and add it to individual bowls of soup. I’ve never had much of an issue with this but it’s still an option!
- This recipe makes 6 servings. But, if you have big eaters, it’ll feed close to 4. Feel free to double it to serve more people.
More soup for autumn & winter
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Creamy Orzo Turkey Soup
- 2 Tbs unsalted butter
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 1 large shallot, small dice
- 3 large carrots, peeled & sliced
- 3 celery stalks, small dice
- 4 large garlic cloves, finely minced
- 2 Tbs fresh sage, finely minced (8 large leaves)
- 8 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1/2 c dry white wine
- 6 c turkey stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 c orzo pasta
- 1 c heavy cream
- 3 c leftover turkey, diced or shredded
- Kosher salt & freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
- Large soup pot
- Add the butter and olive oil to a soup pot over medium-high heat. Once it's hot, add the shallots, carrots, celery, black pepper, and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the veggies are soft and browned on the edges, about 7-8 minutes.
- Next, add the garlic, sage, and thyme. Sauté until the mixture is fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Deglaze the pot with the white wine and cook until it's reduced by half, about 30-60 seconds. Scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
- Add the turkey stock and bay leaf. Bring the soup to a boil. Add the orzo and cook until al dente, 9-10 minutes.
- During the last 3 minutes of cooking, add the cream and turkey. Simmer until the soup is warm and the pasta is tender. Taste and add more salt and pepper, to taste. Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs and discard. Ladle the soup into bowls and enjoy!
xo Sara Lynn
*Song of the day: Golden Light by STRFKR