I had zero intentions of making turkey soup with our Thanksgiving leftovers this year because it’s what I do every year and I just didn’t want it. I wanted loaded sandwiches and pastas with this year’s turkey but it didn’t pan out that way, clearly. I forgot that every single year, without fail, I get sick around Thanksgiving. Sometimes it’s just before, sometimes it’s right after, but either way, I get a flu. It’s not usually bad enough that I can’t function or take part in family get togethers and cooking, but it’s always enough to make me sleep extra long, be completely disgusted with any sweet things, run a teeny tiny fever and not want to eat anything but oatmeal and soup.
I was lucky this year and didn’t get really sick until the day after so I was able to be a normal person and enjoy the weekend with my family before my flu set in. When I felt it taking hold of me, I knew there wasn’t going to be sandwiches or pastas in my near future. No, it had to be soup.
I’m not really great at letting other people take care of me and I’m annoyingly insistent about making my own feel-good, get-better food so the second I knew I was going to be knocked on my butt for the next few days, I made a big pot of this healthy leftover turkey broccoli soup with stuffing croutons. Yes, stuffing croutons.
You know the deal with turkey stuffing. It’s the most amazing part of any Thanksgiving and Christmas meal and it also becomes very, very soggy when kept for leftovers. This has never been an issue for me- I’ll straight up eat it cold out of the fridge- but I knew the stuffing could be turned in to little balls and broiled until lightly crispy to form croutons for the soup and that it would be amazing. Stuffing is always amazing.
If you’ve been reading along for a while, you know that I can’t stand waste of any kind and it won’t surprise you to know that I especially hate buying an entire stalk of broccoli and throwing away what’s left after cutting off the florets. The same goes for cauliflower. The stalks are just as tasty and nutritious as the florets and only need a little extra cooking time to be soft enough to eat. My favorite way to use them up while making the soup healthier and stretch further is to chop them up and boil them with the stock, onions, seasonings and celery.
Once it’s all soft, I blend it until it’s completely smooth and creamy, return it all to the pot and then add the broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and turkey. It’s only another 5-10 minutes of simmering before the florets are cooked and then you add a little cheese, cream, honey and lemon juice, season it more to taste and then it’s all done! An added bonus is by blending the stalks, you get a creamy soup without needing to add a lot of extra cream which is both good for our waistlines and our pocketbooks.
While the florets are cooking, you broil your leftover stuffing cubes for 5-10 minutes or until they’re crispy, top your bowls of soup with as many as you want and then eat!
Yes, Bear got a bowl of soup too. Apparently I’m generous when I’m sick. Go figure.
- 2 TBSP butter
- 1 TBSP olive oil
- 1 large sweet white onion, diced
- 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 large stalks of celery, chopped
- 5-6 C broccoli and cauliflower stems, chopped
- 6-8 C broccoli and cauliflower florets, chopped in to bite sized pieces
- 8 C homemade turkey broth or chicken broth** see note
- ½ tsp dried thyme or 1½ tsp fresh leaves
- 1 TBSP fresh rosemary leaves, minced
- 1 TBSP fresh sage leaves, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 4-5 C shredded, leftover turkey meat (I used all dark meat)
- ¾ C half n half
- 1 cup shredded Asiago or Parmesan
- 1-2 TBSP honey
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Juice of ½ a lemon or 1-2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 C leftover turkey stuffing.
- In a large soup pot, heat butter and olive oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add onion and celery along with a heavy pinch of salt.
- Cook, stirring often, until onion and celery are soft, 5-7 minutes.
- Add thyme, rosemary, garlic, bay leaf and another heavy pinch of salt. Cook, stirring constantly for 30 seconds.
- Add broccoli and broccoli stems and turkey or chicken broth. Cover, bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and continue to simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the stems are soft.
- Once soft, remove the bay leaf and, working in batches, blend the soup carefully in a blender (taking care not to burn yourself) until completely smooth.
- Return soup to the pot and add remaining broccoli and cauliflower, turkey and, if your broth is not salted, add an extra few heavy pinches of salt.
- Bring back to a boil then immediately reduce the heat on the stove to low. Simmer the soup until the florets are soft but still retain some chew, about 5-7 minutes.
- Meanwhile, break your left over stuffing up in to small cubes and place on a baking sheet. Turn on your broiler and place baking sheet on the upper 3rd rack of your oven. Broil for 3-5 minutes while keeping a very close eye on your croutons (some broilers are hotter than others) then, when crispy, carefully turn each crouton over and continue to broil for 2 more minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to rest on the baking sheet and set aside.
- When the broccoli and cauliflower are done, remove the pot from heat, stir in cream, cheese, honey and lemon juice, stirring until the cheese is melted. Taste, adjust salt and pepper to your liking.
- Serve soup warm with as many croutons as you would like on top and extra cheese.
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