Turkey Wild Rice Soup – Take advantage of leftover holiday turkey, and make this rich, creamy, and very hearty soup! Made with an array of vegetables, seasonings and herbs, and of course plenty of wild rice and turkey! EASY, ready in an hour, and made in one pot! No turkey? Use leftover or rotisserie chicken. Comfort food the whole family will love especially when the weather is chilly!
Easy Turkey Wild Rice Soup Recipe
Do you have leftover turkey to use from a big holiday turkey recipe that you made for Thanksgiving or Christmas? If so, this is the perfect easy soup recipe to use leftover turkey!
This creamy wild rice soup is hearty and filling. Made with wild rice, and an array of vegetables including onions, carrots, celery, as well as plenty of herbs and seasonings such as fresh thyme, rosemary, and sage, this soup truly is just layered with rich flavors. Coupled with nice chunks of turkey, this is a comfort in a bowl!
No leftover turkey? No problem!
You can easily make it with shredded rotisserie chicken from the grocery store or leftover chicken from last night’s dinner. So, don’t worry if turkey isn’t on the menu – this soup is a winner either way!
I adapted this recipe from my own Creamy Wild Rice Soup recipe. If you’re looking for an option without meat, it’s a winner!
What is Wild Rice?
Did you know that wild rice isn’t rice after all? Technically, it’s a type of grass!
And no, it doesn’t taste like grass but it is more earthy than basic white rice.
As for the texture, wild rice has a chewy outer sheath with a tender inner grain to give it plenty of hearty chew. It’s heartier than white rice or even brown rice.
It’s nutty and earthy in flavor and is a great addition to soups, stews, and stuffing! Plus it triples in size after it cooks so it can really bulk up and “stretch” whatever you add it to.
I grew up in Minnesota which is known as the state of 10,000 lakes. Wild rice likes growing in wet areas like that with small lakes and shallow streams but unfortunately wild rice is facing extinction because it’s not able to grow just anywhere. That, combined with water pollution, makes wild rice tricky to grow.
Therefore, don’t be surprised if wild rices seems pricey or expensive compared to other rice. It is! But I promise, this soup recipe with wild rice is so worth it!
Ingredients in Turkey and Wild Rice Soup
To make this creamy turkey wild rice soup recipe, you’ll need the following ingredients. Like many soup recipes, this one has a fair amount of ingredients – mostly due to the variety of herbs but if you’re short on one or two – don’t worry about it:
Note: Scroll down to the recipe card section of the post for the ingredients with amounts included and for more complete directions.
How to Make Wild Rice Soup with Turkey
This wild rice soup recipe takes only 10 minutes of prep and then the final hour is hands-off as the soup simmers on the stove.
Wild rice needs more time to cook than white rice or brown rice do so take note of that. But the instructions to make this soup are easy to follow.
Step 1: To a large stock pot or Dutch oven, add the olive oil onions, carrots, celery, and saute for a few minutes.
Step 2: Add the flour, stir, and cook for 1 minute.
Step 3: Add the mushrooms, minced garlic cloves, and saute.
Step 4: Add the salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, thyme, rosemary, sage, wild rice, broth, bay leaves, and bring to a boil.
Step 5: Allow soup to boil fairly rapidly for about 30 minutes uncovered, or until liquid volume has reduced by nearly half.
Step 6: Cover the soup, turn the heat to low or medium-low, and allow the soup to simmer for another 25 minutes or until rice is tender and done.
Step 8: Remove the bay leaves and other sprigs of fresh herbs, add the parsley, lemon juice, and season with additional salt and pepper to taste. If desired, add a pinch of sugar to balance out the flavors before serving!
How To Tell When Wild Rice is Done
Wild rice has much more chewiness than other rice and even when it’s done. Don’t be surprised if it’s very al dente even when it really is done. There’s a difference though between al dente and undercooked, so make sure you’ve boiled it as long as the package directions indicate – usually at least 45 minutes to an hour. It will vary from brand to brand. Make sure you taste it a couple times to be absolutely sure it’s cooked enough to your liking before pulling the pot off the stove.
Some of the rice grains will appear ‘burst’ or cracked in places, which is a visual clue.
Also, the soup will thicken as it cools and I find that as the leftover soup sits in the fridge, the rice continues to absorb the liquid over a few days like many noodle based soups tend to do or soups with long grain rice. So don’t worry if it looks a little brothy when you immediately take your pot of soup off the heat.
Serving Suggestions for Creamy Wild Rice Soup
Before diving in to a big bowl of wild rice and turkey soup, I like to add some some grated Parmesan cheese on top. Cheese makes everything better!
Other perfect accompaniments for your creamy wild rice soup with turkey are bread or dinner rolls. My fluffy Garlic Herb Rolls are just the thing for mopping up the savory broth.
Any type of crusty bread like French bread, baguettes, or your favorite dinner roll is also great.
Additionally, a crisp side salad with a light vinaigrette like my Classic House Salad is a light and fresh choice.
Even though some people may say ‘soup isn’t a meal’ this one truly is! There’s plenty of protein, hearty grains, and vegetables so you won’t have to worry too much about what else to serve the soup with.
Substitutions and Variations for Leftover Turkey Soup with Wild Rice
These substitutions and variations offer plenty of flexibility to make creamy Turkey and Wild Rice Soup that makes your mouth water! Feel free to try some of these suggestions:
- Use Chicken or Turkey: If you don’t have leftover turkey, a store-bought rotisserie chicken or leftover chicken would work just as well. I’ve repurposed leftovers from my 20-Minute Oven Baked Chicken and my juicy Poached Chicken in this soup and they were both perfect!
- Mushrooms: I use cremini mushrooms, but white mushrooms or baby portobello mushrooms are both great. Not a mushroom fan? Just omit them.
- Onions: I like sweet Vidalia onions in soups but yellow or white onions work just as well.
- Additional Vegetables: While not as traditional, you can throw in a variety of veggies you may have on hand including cauliflower florets (add it when you begin to simmer the soup covered), peas, corn, or greens such as fresh spinach or shredded kale. Besides cauliflower, the remaining options can be added in the final 5-10 minutes or so of simmering when you add the heavy cream.
- Smoky Flavor: For a smoky twist, consider adding a few strips of cooked and crumbled bacon or smoked paprika to the soup.
- Spice It Up: Add a pinch of red pepper flakes for some heat, a dash of cayenne pepper, or some chopped jalapeno to give your soup a spicy kick.
- Instead of Lemon: If you don’t have lemon juice, you can use another acid including a splash of white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Why add lemon or any acid to soup? It truly rounds out the flavor profile of the soup and I always recommend doing so.
- Switch Broths: Experiment with different broths such as turkey broth – which you may have on hand if you were making a whole turkey – or vegetable broth.
Tips for Making the Best Turkey and Wild Rice Soup
Herbs: I prefer to use fresh herbs when I can get them. They are so full of flavor and again, if you are making this soup to use up leftover turkey you made for the holidays, chances are you have fresh herbs on hand anyway.
If you don’t have fresh herbs, or have a mix-and-match assortment of fresh and dried herbs, that’s fine.
A general rule is to use half the quantity of dry herbs as you would for fresh. So rather than 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, you will use 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme.
Rice: I strongly recommend using 100% wild rice.
I hesitate to even suggest a wild rice blend, meaning a mixture of wild rice and other rice because cooking times will vary and things could be ‘off’ for you from the way I wrote the recipe.
Heavy Cream: I advise heavy cream in this soup for that very white appearance and super creamy texture. If you’re trying to save some fat and calories half-and-half will work. However, don’t use whole milk, 2% milk, or anything without the rich fat of heavy cream or half-and-half.
How to Store Leftover Soup
Like a lot of soups, this one tastes amazing the next day as the flavors have a chance to mingle.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
You can also reheat it in the microwave in 30-second bursts until it’s hot. Of course, you can also do it in a pot on the stovetop.
You may need to add some more broth when reheating if the wild rice soaks up some of the liquid.
I don’t recommend freezing this soup. Dairy products don’t freeze and thaw well and it will change the texture of your soup.
Turkey and Wild Rice Soup FAQs
Poultry seasoning is a blend of herbs and spices that are commonly used when seasoning chicken or turkey. The blend usually includes sage, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, and black pepper. If you don’t have it on hand, I suggest picking up a little jar as it’s a kitchen staple.
I find it in Trader Joe’s or my grocery store. If you don’t have luck, then you can order wild rice from Amazon or your favorite online retailer.
No, they aren’t the same. Wild rice blend contains wild rice but it also contains other types of rice like white rice, brown rice, and even red or black rice. Since it has more than one kind, the cooking times may vary. For this reason, I don’t recommend using anything other than pure wild rice, from your favorite store or online retailer.
Yes, the lemon juice is optional but it adds a subtle tangy brightness to the soup which really adds a ton of great flavor. No lemon juice? A tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or champagne vinegar will also work. Of course, you can always omit it.
The rice should be chewy, not crunchy, with some grains burst open. If the rice gets overcooked it can turn mushy, so keep an eye on it! Also see the box above, How To Tell When Wild Rice is done.
Yes, you can make this soup ahead of time and reheat it when needed. However, be cautious when reheating, as dairy-based soups can separate if reheated at too high a temperature! Heat it gently over low-to-medium heat on the stovetop or in 30-second bursts in the microwave, and stir frequently to prevent separation.
I don’t recommend freezing this soup because milk-based products, like heavy cream, tend to go grainy and separate when thawed. However, you can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
You perhaps could, but I have not experimented with cooking wild rice in either an instant pot or slow cooker, so I can’t give advice. It’s obviously possible but you’d have to research the general method, time required, liquid volume needed for the rice, and so forth.
1 hour 10 minutes
- 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large sweet Vidalia onion, diced small
- 1 1/2 cups carrots (from about 2 to 3 large carrots), peeled and diced into small half moons
- 1 1/2 cups celery (from about 2 to 3 large stalks), diced into small half moons
- 10 ounces sliced cremini mushrooms
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced or pressed
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 to 4 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary (or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary)
- 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh sage (or 1/2 teaspoon dried sage)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- 1 cup uncooked wild rice, rinsed (I use Trader Joe’s or from Amazon; I don’t recommend a wild rice ‘blend’ nor a quick-cook version)
- 64 ounces (8 cups) reduced sodium chicken broth (reduced sodium vegetable or turkey broth may be substituted)
- 2 or 3 bay leaves
- 2 cups heavy cream, or as desired ( half-and-half may be substituted; do not use milk it’s too thin)
- 1 1/2 cups leftover cooked turkey, shredded or cubed (rotisserie chicken or leftover chicken may be substituted)
- 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh Italian flat-leaf or regular parsley, finely minced
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice, optional (brightens up the flavor)
- pinch sugar, optional and to taste (balances acidity and rounds out the flavor)
- To a large Dutch oven or stockpot, add the oil, onion, carrots, celery, and sauté over medium-high heat for about 7 minutes, or until vegetables begin to soften. Stir intermittently.
- Add the mushrooms, garlic, and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Stir nearly continuously.
- Evenly sprinkle the flour, stir to combine, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir nearly continuously.
- Add 1 teaspoon salt, poultry seasoning, thyme, rosemary, sage, pepper, wild rice, reduced sodium chicken broth, bay leaves, and bring to a boil. Allow soup to boil fairly rapidly for about 30 minutes, or until liquid volume has reduced by nearly half. Stir intermittently, making sure to scrape up rice that will have a tendency to stick to the bottom.
- Turn the heat to medium-low, cover, and allow soup to simmer covered for about 25 minutes, or until rice is as done as desired. Tips– Wild rice has much more chewiness than other rice and even when it’s done it’s very al dente. Some of the rice grains will have appeared to burst or split open which is a good visual cue that it’s done, but be sure to taste a few spoonfuls before determining if it’s done or not. All wild rice will vary in the time it takes to fully cook through, the rate of your boil, the size of the pot, kitchen temperature, and so forth, so boil it as long as needed so it’s done.
- Remove the lid, add the cream (start with 1 cup), the leftover turkey (white and dark meat) or leftover turkey breast, stir to combine, and allow soup to simmer gently uncovered for about 5 to 10 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Tips – If desired, you may be able to get away with only 1 cup of heavy cream rather than 2 cups. I have made it with anywhere between 1 to 2 cups and it really depends on your preferences but to achieve the look of the photos, use 2 cups. After adding the cream, don’t allow soup to boil too aggressively because the cream can ‘break’. The soup will thicken as it cools and I find that as the leftover soup sits in the fridge, the rice continues to absorb the liquid over a few days so don’t worry if it looks a little brothy or seems to have almost too much liquid at this at this point.
- Remove the bay leaves, and sprigs of fresh herbs if you used them, add the parsley, and stir to combine.
- Taste soup and optionally add the lemon juice which really brightens up the flavor, and the optional sugar to balance the overall flavor profile.
- Then add additional salt, pepper, or more herbs, as desired. Tips – If your soup tastes at all flat or boring, it likely needs more salt. The total amount of salt will vary based on how salty the brand of broth you used was, how much salt your leftover turkey had, and personal preference for salt. Personally I add about 2 teaspoons initially (in step 3) and another 2 or 3 teaspoons now. You are flavoring over a gallon of liquid + many pounds of vegetables and bland rice. Don’t be afraid to add as much salt as it needs; which is why restaurant soup tastes so good as they aren’t shy about adding salt.
- Serve immediately. Extra soup will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat gently on the stovetop or in 30-second bursts in the microwave, taking care not to heat it too hot, too fast, because cream-based soups can ‘break’ if you’re not careful. For this reason, I don’t recommend freezing this soup because milk proteins do not survive the freezing/thawing process well without breaking and turning extremely unsightly.
Adapted from my own Creamy Wild Rice Soup recipe. If you need a meatless version, it’s great. For that soup I used 1 cup rather than 2 cups heavy cream which is why it’s darker in color.
Amount Per Serving:
Calories: 507Total Fat: 35gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 135mgSodium: 8101mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 2gSugar: 15gProtein: 25g
More Easy Leftover Turkey Recipes:
Turkey Noodle Soup – Have leftover Thanksgiving turkey? Make this turkey soup! It’s easy and tastes like grandma’s homemade chicken noodle soup, but with turkey!
Easy Turkey Pot Pie – Wondering what to do with that leftover turkey from the holidays? Make this easy turkey pot pie recipe! It’s hearty, creamy, comforting, perfect for chilly weather, and EASY to make!
Turkey Tetrazzini – Wondering what to do with your leftover Thanksgiving turkey? This rich casserole features al dente spaghetti, a decadent cream sauce, tender vegetables, cheese, and of course your extra turkey! It’s EASY to make and may be even better than your Thanksgiving feast!
Turkey and Cheese Sliders – Juicy turkey, Swiss cheese, and cranberry sauce all nestled in soft Hawaiian rolls that are brushed with butter and topped with poppy seeds for the BEST turkey sliders! FAST, EASY, and takes advantage of leftover turkey! Deli turkey also works.