Beyond the Turkey Sandwich - Three Soups to Repurpose Leftovers


I am living vicariously through you all this week So first off, I want to know (comment below or connect through Facebook or Instagram) and see what you are making for Thanksgiving this week.  I am still in the midst of a complete overhaul on my house. Seriously! Everything except our bedrooms, baths and garage-turned-family room (see our makeshift kitchen in collage below) have been completely torn apart and are currently awaiting transformation. Therefore, at the biggest food moment of the year, this chef is without a kitchen. I have been thinking about my favorite Thanksgiving recipes since it is a holiday that is really all about food. No perfect gift-buying or busyness distracting us from the joys of feasting, friends and family, right?

Knowing full well that I have missed the boat for advising anyone on the big Thanksgiving menu,  I also know that many times I get so hung up on the menu for the BIG DAY that I totally forget to even buy groceries for the rest of the long weekend. To that end, I offer you some of my favorite ways to use up leftovers, instead, which is way better since it doesn't involve another shopping trip and you don't just have to reheat leftovers to use them up.

After feasting, I have two go-to meals: Soups and Salads. Salads, for sure, are the go-to most of the time here in Texas where we have Spring-like, if not swelteringly hot, weather 70% of the year. But this time of year, when the winds are blowing and it’s mostly chilly, soups become the path to undoing the excess.

Two of the soups are useful for repurposing turkey, but the third is for repurposing your leftover veggies. To make it a complete meal, serve any of these soups with a simple salad, fruit and your favorite paleo or gluten-free bread.


Smoky Southwestern Turkey Soup

The corn and chickpeas can be replaced with chopped carrots and celery or sweet potatoes and kale (or any combination if you are eating grain and legume-free.)  If you buy a can of chipotle chiles, keep the remaining chiles with sauce in a mason jar indefinitely in your fridge.

4 cups leftover shredded turkey

1 small yellow onion, chopped

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 canned chipotle chile (or 2 tsp smoked paprika)

1 14 oz can whole or diced tomatoes

1 cup frozen corn kernels

1 can chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans+)

salt and pepper to taste

6 cups chicken broth

1 lime, quartered

1/2 cup crumbled feta or shredded cheddar cheese, optional

2 cups shredded cabbage (optional)

1 cup chopped cilantro

tortilla chips or strips to serve, totally optional but a crunchy finish

In a large saucepan, saute onion and minced garlic in the oil until softened.

Remove the onions and garlic with a slotted spoon and transfer to a blender. Reserve the oil in the saucepan, and add the tomatoes and chipotle or smoked paprika to the blender.  Blend until smooth.

Reheat the oil in the saucepan for a minute or two.  Add the pureed tomato/chile mixture and cook for a couple of minutes (covered or it will greatly spatter) until it becomes a bit thicker.  Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, add the chickpeas and corn (or other vegetables of your choice) then simmer for 5 minutes or until you have the chicken shredded.  Add the chicken and cook for a minute or two until heated through.

Ladle the soup into shallow bowls and top with a handful of tortilla chips, cabbage, cilantro, a lime wedge and a sprinkle of cheese.


Italian Turkey Soup with Kale Pesto

Use rotisserie chicken when you don’t have leftover turkey. If you don’t eat beans, use sweet potatoes, turnips, potatoes or winter squash instead.

1 tbsp olive or avocado oil

2 carrots, sliced

2 stalks celery, sliced

1 onion, chopped

2 tsp kosher salt

1 tbsp Italian herb blend or 1 tsp each dried thyme, oregano and rosemary

1 tsp fennel seeds lightly crushed in mortal and pestle or mini food processor

4 cups shredded turkey

1 can white beans, drained (or 1 1/2 cups if you have made your own)

6 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup Kale Pesto, recipe follows

Shredded Aged Gouda or Parmesan Cheese, optional

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Sauté the carrots, celery and onion until slightly wilted then reduce heat to medium.  Add the Italian herb blend, salt and fennel seeds and stir until the fennel is fragrant.

Add the shredded turkey, beans and broth. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook until vegetables are done to your liking.

Serve each portion with a big dollop of pesto and a little extra cheese.  This is great with crusty gluten-free baguette and a glass of Sangiovese or Pinot Grigio.

Kale Pesto

2 cups chopped kale leaves (stems removed)

2 cloves garlic, sliced

¼ cup pine nuts or walnuts, chopped

1 tsp salt

juice of ½ lemon

½ cup olive oil

½ cup shredded Aged Gouda or Parmesan cheese, optional

Equipment:  Food processor or blender, or to burn calories or work off stress – mortar and pestle

Place basil, garlic, pinenuts, salt and lemon juice in food procesor.  Pulse until all ingredients are chopped together.  Turn machine on and slowly pour in oil until the mixture comes together.  Remove to a bowl and stir in parmesan cheese.

Blender method:  Finely chop nuts. Place all ingredients in the blender except the nuts and Parmesan cheese.  Turn on blender and blend well until a it is a thick spread.  Remove to a bowl and stir in nuts and Parmesan.

Mortar and Pestle method:  Pound the basil, garlic, lemon and salt until it forms a paste.  Add the nuts and pound some more.  Whisk in olive oil and stir in cheese.


Paleo-Friendly Creamy Vegetable Soup

This is a base recipe that can be made a hundred ways. When you don’t have leftovers, use frozen broccoli or cauliflower to make a fabulous any day soup. If you eat cheese, add a cup or more of grated cheese at the end.

¾ cup raw cashews

2 tbsp butter, ghee or avocado oil

1 cup onion or leeks, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

6 cups broth (plus extra for thinning)

3 cups leftover vegetables** (sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts)

1-2 tbsp Chopped herbs: sage, thyme, rosemary

Freshly grated nutmeg

1 tsp Sea salt

½ tsp pepper

Juice of 1 lemon, optional


Bacon, grated cheese, thinly sliced green onion

Soak cashews in filtered water for at least 30 minutes or overnight

In a large soup pot, sauté onion and garlic until wilted.  Add 5 cups broth, vegetables and chosen flavoring agents.  Cook until vegetables are very soft.  Once cooked, ladle into a blender or food processor and puree.  (If using a blender, especially, only fill half full and do not put on lid.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel.  Otherwise, it could explode everywhere.)  Alternatively, you can use a hand blender and puree right in the pan.

While soup is cooking, puree soaked cashews with remaining one cup of broth in a blender. This is your cream replacement.

Return soup to rinsed pan.  Add cashew cream and enough broth to get the consistency you want.  Taste and add sea salt and pepper to taste.  If the soup tastes a bit flat, add a little lemon juice.



Coconut Curry Soup – Use 2 tsp curry powder and 1 tsp ginger.  Use 1 cup canned coconut milk in place of cashew cream for the curry version.

Sweet Potato Leek Soup – Use 2 cups of sliced leeks (slice and place in a bowl of water to rid of grit) in place of the onion and only sweet potatoes for the veg.  Use some chives or the green parts of scallions for the flavoring agents.  Serve hot or cold topped with chives or sliced scallion greens.  (If cold, you can call it Vichyssoise.) Swirl in some Paleo Ranch dressing for a little fun and flavor.

Loaded Potato Soup – Use leftover mashed cauliflower, potatoes or sweet potatoes.  No additional flavoring agents other than salt and pepper.  Use Greek yogurt, goat yogurt or a non-dairy yogurt instead of cream.  Top with sliced scallions, bacon and cheese, if you eat cheese.