~ This Turkey Rice Soup is like a whole bowlful of comforting hugs. Creamy and richly flavorful, warm and deeply satisfying. Delicious and nourishing. Try it with leftover Thanksgiving turkey … or even with leftover chicken breasts or rotisserie chicken. ~
This Recipe Is: • Freezable • Make Ahead • Gluten Free •
What’s even more comforting than a steaming, soul-mending bowl of soup?
Knowing that it’s actually good for you, too! A healthy boost for your weary body.
Oh sure, this soup tastes like an I’ll-regret-this-later comfort food. But it’s not.
Thanks to a simple little hack, this rich, flavorful soup still has a luxuriously creamy, comforting texture … without any cream at all. Not even half-and-half.
Nope! It’s lighter and leaner … which is just what we all need after a belt-loosening Thanksgiving dinner, or for those mid-winter days when we’re resolving to be a little healthier.
So, grab that ho-hum leftover turkey (or some leftover, cooked chicken!), and turn it into something really wonderful.
My husband and I are a bit obsessed with this soup, honestly. It’s positively addictive. I know you’ll love it, too!
Why You’ll Love This Turkey Rice Soup
• It’s overflowing with flavorful, colorful vegetables, plus tender chunks of turkey and delightfully chewy pops of wild rice.
• All floating in a rich and creamy, but (need I say it again???) low-fat, low-cal base (no heavy cream in sight!!). Thanks to that little hack I’ll tell ya about in a sec …
• It’s flexible, too. Although we love the specific combination of veggies I specify, it’s not a big deal if you don’t like mushrooms, for example. Leave ‘em out and maybe sub extra carrots instead. Can’t find turkey broth? No worries – use chicken broth. (It doesn’t have exactly the same flavor, but I’ve tested this soup with chicken broth, too, and it’s great either way.)
• Other than chopping everything up, there’s hardly any work at all. It burbles away on the stove (filling your house with terrific, homey smells), just needing a quick stir now and then.
• And it reheats beautifully – great for meal prep and cozy meals all week (if it lasts that long). It even freezes great if you wanna stock up!
So how do I manage to win on so many levels, with such a rich and creamy, velvety soup that needs NO cream at all?
Oh, guys … it’s such a simple swap …
Why This Soup Is Creamy-Dreamy (Without Any Actual Cream)
Please don’t be disappointed as I reveal this little healthy eating swap. It’s so easy and completely non-glamorous. Yet it works like an absolute charm!
Cue the drumroll …
Nonfat Evaporated Milk!
(Told ya – completely not glamorous or sexy.)
But it’s a great little health-ificaiton trick I use all the time.
And, in this soup, I increase the creamy power of evaporated milk by whisking it with a little cornstarch. Just like flour, cornstarch is a great thickener for soups and sauces (but, unlike flour, it’s gluten free).
Why This Works So Beautifully
As its name clearly suggests, evaporated milk is simply milk that’s gone through an evaporation process. According to Wikipedia, that process removes roughly 60% of the milk’s water (and also makes it shelf-stable).
For health-minded cooks, that’s great because – with so much less water – evaporated milk is denser and creamier than regular milk. It gives a silkier, fuller body to soups and sauces, but without the undesirable extra fat and calories of cream (or even half-and-half).
Combining it with a bit of cornstarch adds a little extra thickening power … and presto! … you’ve got a velvety, creamy backdrop to this Turkey Wild Rice Soup, without any heavy cream at all!
Pro Tip: Making Extra-Thick, Creamy Turkey Rice Soup
This recipe directs you to add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch to your evaporated milk. I love the rich, creamy texture this creates, without being too thick and creamy.
But, if you prefer your Turkey Rice Soup on the extra-thick side, simply add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to the milk, instead of only 1. I’ve tested that, too, and it works great if you want your soup to be ultra thick and almost stew-like.
A couple of important notes here:
1) Evaporated Milk vs. Sweetened Condensed Milk
First, be sure you don’t grab a can of sweetened condensed milk by mistake. They often sit side-by-side on grocery store shelves, but they’re definitely not interchangeable.
Sweetened condensed milk is very, very sweet – yummy in desserts, but definitely not yummy in Turkey Soup!
And second, make sure to notice the all-important words printed (in very tiny letters for such an important note!) on the can’s label: SHAKE WELL.
Evaporated milk often separates, with a thick layer forming at the bottom of the can. Since we’re using it to create thickness and creamy body in place of full-fat cream, we WANT that silky layer – don’t leave it behind!
If shaking the can around before you open it doesn’t get all those solids incorporated back in, be sure to use a spoon or rubber scraper to get out every last bit before whisking the milk with your cornstarch.
But now I’m getting ahead of myself, spouting directions on how to make the soup. Let’s start back at the beginning …
How to Make Turkey Rice Soup
Most of the hands-on prep time in this recipe is simply in chopping your ingredients.
Pro Tip: Prep Ahead!
And hey hey … you can pre-chop your meat and all the veggies several hours or a day ahead, and stash them in the fridge (covered) until you’re ready to cook your soup.
To bring this soup together, start by cooking your chopped onion, carrots, mushrooms, celery, and garlic until they’re just starting to soften a little.
About 5 minutes or so should do it.
You don’t want them to brown – you’re just getting them a little soft before adding the rest of the ingredients.
Next, add your broth, the rice, and all your spices and seasonings to the soup pot.
Cover that glorious pot of heart-warming goodness and bring it up to a sustained simmer until your rice is done, stirring now and then.
Rice Cooking Time
Be sure to check your rice package for the manufacturer’s recommended cooking time, as it might vary a little.
The wild rice blend I normally use when I make this recipe (Lundberg Sustainable) specifies a cook time of 45 minutes, which is perfect in my recipe. But, other brands and blends may differ. For example, the same brand of pure organic wild rice (not a blend) specifies that it might need just a little longer, with a cook time of 45-50 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk your evaporated milk together with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. (Be sure to follow my suggestion above about shaking the can of milk and making sure you’ve gotten out any remaining milk solids in the bottom of the can.)
When your rice is done, add the milk mixture to your soup. Toss in your diced turkey (or chicken) at this point, too.
Bring it all up to a boil and let it cook for about 5 minutes longer. That’ll allow the cornstarch slurry to thicken and also heat your turkey through.
I like to sprinkle a little fresh parsley on top if I happen to have some, just to make it prettier. But it’s perfectly fine without any garnish, too. No need to stress about making it fancy!
Mmmmmmm … and it’s ready to serve!
How to Serve Your Turkey Wild Rice Soup
We usually eat a big bowl of this as a main coarse, since it’s so very hearty and satisfying.
Bonus points if you’ve got some whole grain rolls alongside, to mop up every last drop of that creamy, flavorful broth.
For a light lunch, you could serve a small cup of soup alongside a crisp green salad or maybe half a sandwich.
And remember, this Turkey Wild Rice Soup recipe reheats great.
Freezes wonderfully, too.
I like to portion out little single-serving baggies of soup and freeze them flat, then combine all the individual baggies together in one big gallon bag once they’re solid. That makes it really easy to pull out just one portion at a time!
More Ideas for Using Up Leftover Turkey
Still got even moooore leftover Thanksgiving turkey stashed in the fridge?
No problem – I’ve got more delicious ideas for you!
And don’t forget your pup! We’ve even got a recipe for Homemade Turkey Dog Treats (below, right).
Love meal prepping? You can also freeze that leftover turkey, so you’re recipe-ready all throughout the busy holidays. We’ve got a few tips about that in our full recipe collection of Leftover Turkey Recipes.
Trust me … with all these ideas, leftover Thanksgiving turkey definitely doesn’t have to be ho-hum ever again!
Sure! I do it all the time. I often grab a rotisserie chicken when I want to make this soup (since I only have leftover turkey about once each year). And, if you can’t find turkey broth, chicken broth will work just fine, too. I’ve fully tested this recipe with both chicken and chicken broth, and they’re absolutely delicious options!
Wild rice isn’t actually a “true” rice. In fact, it’s the seed of an aquatic, freshwater grass. According to One Green Planet, it’s most commonly grown in North America, particularly in the Great Lakes region around Minnesota. Interestingly, in terms of nutrition, wild rice has a little more fiber and about 40% more protein than brown rice, but about 30% fewer calories.
According to Taste.com, commercial, large-scale farming of wild rice is inherently difficult, and its unique nature and limited cultivation make it more expensive than other “true” rices.
I prefer a blend because it’s less expensive (and sometimes easier to find at the store) than pure wild rice. Plus, it offers more variety in textures and even the colorful appearance of the various types of rice in the blend. You can certainly opt for pure wild rice, if you prefer – or even some other type of rice. Just be sure to adjust the cooking time of the soup based on the package directions for how long your rice needs to cook.
Nope! Wild rice is very forgiving and not prone to turning mushy through overcooking the way plain white rice or even brown rice can be.
You can! But, if you use another type of rice, or a blend like I do in this recipe, be sure to cook the rice just until it’s done (check your package for directions and recommended cook times) – and adjust the soup’s recommended 45-minute cook time accordingly.
Depending on the recipe, rice can be cooked directly in a soup (in which case you need to start with more liquid), or it can be cooked separately and added to the soup near the end. This particular recipe saves the whole “cooking separately” step (and saves on cleaning an extra pot) because the rice is cooked right in the broth. When the rice is done, you simply add the turkey (or chicken) to warm through, and the soup is ready!
Hurray – this Thanksgiving, you’ll have the perfect recipe for using up your extra turkey.
And I’m just gonna bet that next year, you might find yourself planning to buy a slightly bigger turkey, just to be sure you have leftovers.
Mmmmm … that’s how much I love this recipe, anyway. I think you’ll feel the same.
So comforting, so creamy, so nourishing. Comfort food perfection!
Love the Recipe? • Were My Tips Helpful?
Please leave a star-rating in the recipe card below – I truly appreciate all your wonderful feedback!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup diced sweet onion
- 3/4 cup sliced (peeled) carrot
- 3/4 cup sliced cremini (baby bella) mushrooms
- 1/2 cup diced celery
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 32 ounces turkey broth
- 3/4 cup wild rice blend, rinsed per package instructions (see note)
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley
- 1 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated fat free milk (NOT sweetened condensed milk)
- 2 cups cubed turkey breast (see note)
- salt to taste, if needed
- optional for garnish: minced fresh Italian (flat leaf) parsley
- Heat oil over medium heat in a large soup pot or dutch oven.
- Cook onion, carrots, mushrooms, celery, and garlic until starting to soften, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent browning.
- Add broth, rice, parsley, thyme, black pepper, sage, bay leaf, and salt. Cover, bring soup to a simmer, and continue cooking (covered) at a simmer until the rice is done, stirring occasionally and adjusting heat as needed to maintain a simmer. (My rice blend specifies a cook time of about 45 minutes, but yours may differ slightly. Check your package for cook time.)
- In a medium bowl, whisk cornstarch into milk. Add to soup, along with the turkey, and bring soup up to a boil for about 5 minutes to thicken and heat through. (Soup will thicken a bit further as it cools.)
- Taste and adjust seasoning if needed, and serve garnished with fresh parsley, if desired.
Swapping chicken meat or broth: You can substitute with chicken broth or chopped chicken meat in place of the turkey broth and meat.
Make-ahead tips: You can chop your turkey and vegetables several hours or a day ahead, and keep them in the fridge (covered) until you’re ready to cook the soup.
In addition, this soup reheats well. It can be refrigerated for several days or even frozen.
Gluten-free note: Rice blends tend to be gluten free. But, if that's a concern for you, be sure to check the label on the brand of rice you purchase, to be sure.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 7 servings Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 173Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 36mgSodium: 669mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 2gSugar: 9gProtein: 18g
Nutrition information should be considered an estimate only, and may vary depending on your choice of ingredients or preparation. No guarantees are made regarding allergies or dietary needs. Always consult a physician or dietician for specific advice and questions.