If you need a recipe for your leftover Thanksgiving turkey, you have to try this healthy Southwestern leftover turkey soup with black beans and corn! This recipe is packed with fresh flavor from lime juice and cilantro, with smoked paprika, cumin, peppers, and onions. You can make it year-round with rotisserie chicken, and it’s freezable.
I really hope you made enough turkey to have leftovers, whether you cooked an entire roast turkey, a boneless breast of turkey in your slow cooker, or a whole turkey breast in your instant pot. This leftover turkey soup is such a great way to put that leftover meat to good use!
After Thanksgiving, I’m always left craving something different in flavor from the comforting foods surrounding the holiday. The flavors in this southwestern turkey soup are the perfect respite from the gravy-laden fare of Thanksgiving, and it’s a healthy way to enjoy leftover turkey!
Packed with smoky flavor from smoked paprika, sweetness from the corn, and bright, fresh flavor from fresh lime juice and plenty of cilantro, I love this light-tasting soup to help detox from gorging over the holidays.
This soup is so simple and easy to make, PLUS you can stick it in your freezer to enjoy later.
Tips and tricks for the best flavor
To make this leftover turkey soup, just sauté some peppers and onions, add some spices, chicken stock, turkey, beans, and corn! It’s so fast and easy since most of the ingredients are already cooked when you add them. Here are some tips for getting the BEST flavor.
- Sauté the peppers and onions for a while, until they develop deep brown color. This will enhance the flavor of the whole soup. Cook them for a while, stirring only a few times, to allow them to really get browned.
- Toast the spices and garlic by adding them to the peppers and onions and sautéing them for a while before adding the liquid. This will help release the oils from the spices and enhance the flavor.
- Use homemade chicken stock, or turkey stock! Here’s a tutorial on how to make chicken stock, and you can use the same method to make turkey stock, if you have leftover bones. Homemade stock/broth always has much more flavor than store-bought, and it’s healthier too.
- Use the juice AND zest of TWO limes. You can use one if you like, but I think the lime juice really makes the soup taste amazing and enhances all the other flavors. And stir the juice in at the end off the heat- this will help preserve its fresh flavor.
Add grains to make it heartier
You can add rice, barley, quinoa, pasta, or another grain to this soup to help bulk it up a bit.
You’ll need to add more chicken stock to help it cook, and it will take a little longer. For example, after you sauté the peppers and onions and add the spices, you can add 3/4 cup basmati (or other long grain white) rice. Then, add an extra 1.5 cups of chicken stock, and simmer until rice is tender.
Then, you can stir in the turkey, beans, and corn, and continue as directed.
Can I make leftover turkey soup with chicken?
Absolutely! There’s practically no difference between cooked turkey and chicken. You can use leftover turkey in chicken noodle soup, and you can use leftover roast chicken in this leftover turkey soup recipe.
Which means this recipe can be enjoyed any time of the year, not just when you happen to have leftover turkey!
What to serve with this soup
I love fixings on soup. For this southwestern leftover turkey soup, I recommend serving it with sour cream, chopped onions, and diced avocados.
And a little hot sauce if you like things spicy!
Other recipes to use leftover turkey (or chicken)
- Leftover Turkey Salad with Cranberries and Walnuts
- Chicken and Dumplings
- Chicken Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Black Beans
- Turkey and Black Bean Enchiladas
Or browse all my soup recipes– there are tons that use cooked chicken as an ingredient!
Did you make this Leftover Turkey Soup recipe? Please click the stars below to comment and Rate this Recipe
Leftover Turkey Soup with Black Beans and Corn
- Large pot
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion diced
- 1 large bell pepper any color, diced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper omit for mild version
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 4 cups chicken stock/broth or vegetable broth, or turkey stock
- 15 oz. canned black beans drained and rinsed (1.5 cups)
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 2 cups cooked shredded turkey or chicken, such as rotisserie
- juice and zest of two limes
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- more cilantro, diced red onion, avocado, sour cream, etc. for serving, optional
- In a large pot, sauté the diced onions and peppers in the olive oil (2 tablespoons) over medium-high heat, until softened and developing deep brown colors, stirring infrequently (5-10 minutes).
- Add the cumin (1 teaspoon), smoked paprika (1/2 teaspoon), cayenne pepper (1/4 teaspoon), black pepper (1/4 teaspoon), kosher salt (1/2 teaspoon), and 2 cloves of minced garlic. Stir until peppers and onions are well-coated and garlic and spices are fragrant (about 1 minute).
- Add the chicken stock (4 cups). Bring to a boil.
- Stir in the black beans, frozen corn (1 cup), cooked shredded turkey (2 cups), and lime zest from two limes. Stir and simmer, uncovered, until all ingredients are heated through (about 5 minutes).
- Turn off the heat. Stir in the lime juice from two limes and the chopped fresh cilantro (1/2 cup). Serve topped with sour cream, avocado, chopped onion, etc., if desired.
- Time saving tip: while the peppers and onions are sautéing, prep and measure the remaining ingredients.
- Make it grain-free: omit the corn.
- Freeze it in an airtight container for up to 6 months.