Leftover turkey noodle soup

Leftover turkey noodle soup

A much-needed bowl of something to soothe.

This is the holiday leftover meal from my family, along with pie (of which more later, hopefully). And it just seems like a joke to provide a recipe, but since most leftover turkey noodle soups tend to be more pasta-style I thought I’d provide this friendly suggestion. It really goes against the nature to stipulate precise formulas, so I give amounts just so you can orient yourself, and then you can do it how you like, really.


Stock can be a very personal thing, and the best way to do it of course depends on what you like–you may find my way to be an abomination; it certainly wouldn’t pass muster in many circles, but it is delicious.

My parents gave me a very basic and honestly sort of janky second-handpressure cooker, but it produces decent stock in 20 minutes and very good stock in 45. If you have one of those new-fangled Instant Pots, you’re laughing. Usually I have to do 2 rounds because my pressure cooker is small but that’s no trouble since it’s done swiftly and the turkey bones can wait in the fridge/freezer.

I put as much turkey as I can in the pressure cooker. The turkey carcass, wing tips, skin and bones, pan stickings and those odd bits of turkey which look very flavourful but challenging to eat.

If there’s any chicken stock, I add this to the pot. Otherwise cover as much as you can safely do so with water, close the lid, set on the heat bring up to pressure, adjust heat so it hisses away gently, and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, release the lid pressure, and carefully check the flavour. If it’s deep and savoury with a silky body, strain and cool the stock, otherwise continue boiling under pressure for another 15 – 25  minutes. Keep going til you’re done!

If you don’t have a pressure cooker, a normal stockpot is fine–just takes longer. Simmer for at least 2 hours, ideally 4 – 5.

To cool stock more swiftly, put your sealed containers in a sink or tub full of cold tap water. Check after 10 minutes; if the water’s warm, change it. Either way, let the stock cool most of the way down for another 20 – 30 minutes before transferring to the fridge. If I’m feeling up to it, I freeze some in ice cube trays.

Also, I make this very simply and unseasoned for versatility but there’s no reason you couldn’t make the bones straight into a soup stock; I link a pho-style soup below which I’ve very much enjoyed so you could make it the same way with turkey bones or reheating stock with the same aromatics.



I also really like this pressure cooker pho with charred onion, lots more coriander, ginger, and some woody spices in the soup, so I link it here as a reminder to myself and perhaps inspiration for you.

It’s against the nature of this recipe to be too strict with measurements, so here we go…

Per bowl, you want:


  • 250ml – 300 ml (generous 1 cup, up to 1 1/2 cups) turkey or chicken stock. Less if you’re cooking noodles separately, more if you’re cooking them directly in the stock
  • Stock cubes or bouillon powder to taste
  • Squashed garlic clove
  • A few stems of fresh coriander (or 1 root)
  • A few drops Shaoxing wine (don’t trouble yourself to get it just for this, but if you have it, this is a worthy dish)
  • Light soy sauce, start off with 1 tsp
  • Fish sauce, start off with 1/2 tsp
  • A few drops rice vinegar, white vinegar, lemon or lime juice
  • Pinches of salt
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Ground white pepper, several shakes.
  • (Don’t be alarmed by the long list: this is just what I have to hand and it uses just 1 pot, but use whatever you like.)
  • Water to dilute

additions & everything else:

  • 1 serving of noodles (40g – 50g dried or 75g – 100g fresh). My favourites are glass noodles and instant ramen (including, yes, supernoodles) which are cooked straight in the stock, and the fresh egg/fresh or dried rice noodles which require cooking in a separate pot of boiling water are only marginally more fuss.
  • Good handful of turkey, shredded or sliced
  • Handful of wilted greens (or cook some sliced carrots/mushrooms/broccoli/peas etc in the soup base)


  • Sliced chilli
  • Spring onions
  • Chopped fresh coriander
  • Pork/chicken scratchings
  • Your favourite flavoured oil–just sesame oil or some fried garlic oil or chilli oil
To assemble:

Get your soup, meat, vegetables, and toppings in order, because the noodles won’t wait. If I’m cooking for more than myself, I set everything up and cook the noodles once people are ready to sit down.

Make soup base by putting everything except the water in a medium saucepan, bringing to the boil, lowering the heat and simmering for a few minutes until the flavours come together. Taste: you want it a bit bolder than you want to have in the final dish. Keep warm.

Additions: If you need to cook non-leafy vegetables or reheat bone-in meat, do so now in the broth, removing them with a slotted spoon to your serving bowl.

For leafy veg, I prefer to wilt them in a separate pan and squeeze out as much liquid as possible or it makes the broth taste like spinach, but you may not share my level of fussiness. The exception is Chinese cabbage which can go right in the soup contribute its own delicate flavour.

Soaking/blanching noodles: If your noodles need soaking or blanching, take care of that according to packet instructions. Drain and rinse cooked noodles well, pressing firmly to get rid of water, and transfer to serving bowl.

Nearly there: If you haven’t already, arrange your greens and turkey pieces in the bowl, too. I don’t bother reheating meat unless it’s bone-in. Have your toppings ready to go.

Bring your stock back up to the boil. If your noodles are cooked and in the bowl, simply pour over the hot broth, add your toppings, and enjoy. If you need to cook the noodles, add them to the pot and adjust heat so it’s not at a full boil but a lively simmer, stirring gently. It will be done in just a few minutes, so be watchful.

Add water to taste, as the noodles may absorb quite a bit of liquid and make it starchy. I add enough water so it’s clear and easily slurpable. While the noodles are just becoming flexible, I do the final round of seasoning–of course it’s more traditional to season to taste at the table, so feel free to let diners season to their own tastes if that’s easier.

Either way: fish/soy sauce add a briny, complex salinity, but sometimes you do need plain salt to point up the overall flavour. Sugar softens and brings everything together while vinegar (or other acid of choice) adds brightness and clarity, particularly good in deeper turkey soup (and fish/seafood soups).

Once noodles are the tiniest bit firmer than you prefer, pour everything into the waiting soup bowl, add your toppings and oils. Enjoy.


Other leftover recipes:

Bubble & squeak cakes

Thai-style rice congee

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