Leftover turkey gets spicy in this take on the classic tortilla soup. Thanksgiving has come and gone, and I bet you’re currently looking at a TON of leftovers (because…pandemic). Let me make your weekend dreams come true with this recipe for Leftover Turkey Tortilla Soup.
Unless you’re a truly creative chef, most of your Thanksgiving leftovers probably taste like…well…Thanksgiving. I love a good leftover Thanksgiving sandwich, but how many can you really eat in a 3 day span of time? Eventually, you need to change up the flavor profile of your Thanksgiving weekend meals, and Mexican certainly fits that bill.
This dish has to be one of the most flavorful bowls of anything I’ve ever had. Rich, savory tomato broth and classic Mexican spices get things started. But chipotle–oh, chipotle! You really seal the deal. Spice. Smoke. Chipotle has it all. This soup went from amateur to authentic as soon as I dropped that little pepper in.
What exactly IS a chipotle?
Chipotle peppers are ripened, smoked jalapeños. If you’ve never used chipotle peppers, this is your chance. Find these babies in a can in the ethnic foods aisle (Mexican, specifically) at the grocery store. I buy Goya, because that’s what’s available in my store. The peppers come in a tasty sauce called adobo, and infuse a smoky spice into any dish (and make your food taste restaurant-quality–not kidding). Though the can has at least 3 or 4 peppers, you only need one for this recipe. You can freeze the rest, and add them to soups or salsas throughout the year.
Do I need to use chipotle peppers?
So, to be honest, yeah. You do. It’s basically what makes this soup go from average to outstanding. If you had to make a substitution, you could use either some dried ground chipotle spice, some other type of smoked pepper, or maybe (this is a big maybe), a drop of liquid smoke and some regular old jalapeños. I have never tried making this recipe without the canned chipotles, so I’m not sure how it will be.
So that’s it, people. Leftover Turkey Tortilla Soup, the answer to all your Friday-after-Thanksgiving prayers. Pin the recipe now, make it this weekend, tell your friends, and let me know how it turns out!
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Looking for more leftover ideas? Here are a bunch of ways to use everything, from leftover stuffing, to partial cans of pumpkin!
Leftover Turkey Tortilla Soup
This easy soup will bring a little spice to your leftover Thanksgiving (or other holiday) turkey.
- 1 tsp canola oil (can use another mild oil, such as grapeseed)
- 1 cup onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp chili powder (I used ancho chili powder, but you can use regular chill powder)
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
- 4 cups chicken broth (low sodium)
- 1 chipotle in adobo (buy canned, and save the remainder in the freezer)
- 1 1/2 cup diced leftover turkey (white or dark meat)
- 4 corn tortillas
- cooking spray (canola or other mild flavor)
- 1 avocado large diced
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1-2 limes cut into wedges
- handful cilantro leaves
- 1/2 cup shredded jack cheese or queso fresco
Preheat the oven to 425 F. In a 4-6 quart pot, heat the canola oil over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the onion, garlic, coriander, chili powder, and cumin, and stir. Saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While the vegetables are sautéing, stack the corn tortillas on top of each other, and slice them into approximately 1/4 inch thick slices. Lay the tortilla strips in a single layer on a baking sheet, and spray lightly with cooking spray.
Bake the tortilla strips for approximately 9-12 minutes, or until crisp, flipping once in the middle of cooking. Remove from the oven, and set aside while the soup cooks.
While the tortillas are baking, add the diced tomatoes in their liquid, the chipotle pepper, and about 1 cup of the chicken broth (no need to measure this--just guess) to the pot of soup. Cook for 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
Turn off the heat on the stove. Using an immersion blender, carefully puree the soup. Be careful of splashes from the hot liquid! It's okay to leave some chunks/texture in the soup, if you'd like.
Turn the burner back on to medium-high heat. Add the remainder of the chicken broth, and salt to taste (you will likely need at least 1 teaspoon sea salt). Bring to a boil, add the diced turkey, then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes. Note: burner can be turned to low at this point, and the soup can simmer until you're ready to serve.
Serve the soup along with garnishes: crispy tortilla strips, diced avocado, sour cream, wedges of lime, cilantro leaves, and cheese. Everyone can help themselves.
This recipe requires an immersion blender to give the soup a thicker, more uniform consistency. You can use a regular blender, but should wait for the soup to cool before blending to avoid splashes and burns.
Substitute chicken for turkey, if you'd like. You can also use more turkey, if you'd like a heartier soup. Though the tortilla strips are traditionally fried, I chose to bake them to make prep a little easier (and healthier). For a shortcut, use pre-made tortilla strips or chips instead.