This Turkey Lentil Soup is the perfect way to use up leftover turkey; it’s beautifully balanced against earthy lentils and hints of heat from fire-roasted tomatoes.
I LOVE this soup. It’s so cozy and rich, full of umami. It’s got a gentle heat from the fire-roasted tomatoes in Rotel that’s beautifully balanced against the earthy lentils. The turkey absorbs all of those delicious flavors and becomes incredibly tender as the lentils cook. I like to add Yukon Gold potatoes towards the end of cook time to round out the soup with bites of comforting carbs.
This is now officially my go-to soup for leftover Thanksgiving turkey. Plus it’s a surefire way to repurpose turkey that may have wound up a little dry, despite your best efforts to produce a moist bird.
How do you make Turkey Lentil Soup?
To make this cozy Turkey Lentil Soup you will need the following ingredients:
- extra-virgin olive oil
- medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- large garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
- fire-roasted Rotel tomatoes
- green or brown lentils, rinsed
- leftover turkey, shredded into small pieces
- chicken broth
- bay leaf
- medium-sized Yukon gold potatoes
- salt and black pepper, to taste (optional)
See recipe card for quantities. Makes 6-8 hearty servings.
Here's how you make a large batch of comforting Turkey Lentil Soup - like chili, it's flavor gets even better the next day!
In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. When the oil shimmers with heat, add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the minced garlic and cook for an additional minute, stirring occasionally.
Add the Rotel tomatoes, lentils, turkey, chicken broth, and bay leaf, stirring occasionally until it simmers.
Cover partially and simmer, stirring every once in a while, until the lentils are tender, around 50 minutes. It’s okay if they aren’t quite done at this point since in the next step you’ll be adding potatoes and continuing to cook.
Add the diced potatoes and simmer until tender, 10 minutes.
Discard the bay leaf. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if desired. I usually use a full-flavored broth (not low sodium), and don't need to add additional salt.
Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with your favorite carb.
This recipe was adapted from Food & Wine’s Lentil Soup with Smoked Turkey.
Hint: If I have leftover turkey drippings from cooking the turkey, I use them in combination with the chicken stock in this recipe. You could also use and make your own cooking broth - try this Instant Pot Beef Bone Broth.
Here are a few suggested substitutions you can make if modifications are needed.
- Ro-tel - You can also used crushed tomatoes here instead. A fire-roasted tomato variety are my go-to when I don’t have Ro-tel on hand.
- Lentils - Green or brown lentils work best here. If you don’t have lentils on hand but really, really want to make this soup, you can add in a 16 ounce can of pinto beans or garbanzo beans.
- Turkey - This soup would be fantastic with ground turkey as well. Or you could swap in shredded chicken, shredded pork, or even shredded beef.
- Chicken broth - I like to use chicken broth along with any leftover turkey drippings in this soup. But you can use whatever broth you’d like (vegetable, beef, etc.).
- Yukon gold potatoes - Yukon golds are an agreeable potato and hold their shape well in this soup. If you want a substitute, I’d go with red potatoes.
Spicy Turkey Lentil Soup Variation
If you want to pump up the heat, try these tips to achieve spicy Turkey Lentil Soup perfection.
- Add 2-3 finely jalapenos; leave the pith on for extra heat!
- Add a few dashes of cayenne pepper and/or red pepper flakes. Add a small amount, then taste and adjust until you reach the level of heat you desire.
- Finish with a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce - I tend to reach for the OG Tabasco or Cholula.
Large Pot or Dutch Oven
Store leftover Turkey Lentil Soup in a lidded container in the refrigerator for up to five days, or in the freezer for 3-6 months.
Frequently Asked Questions
You should definitely pair this cozy soup with a complimentary carb, like a toasty slice from a baguette or crackers. I like to serve it with Garlic Naan from Trader Joe’s.
Pairing with an appetizer is also a good option. Try pairing this Turkey Lentil Soup with Chorizo Stuffed Mushrooms, Baked Goat Cheese Tomato Dip, or Cheddar Bay Sausage Balls.
You sure can! Add all of the ingredients (except for the potatoes) to a slow cooker, stir, and cook on High for 5-6 hours and Low for around 8-9 hours. Add the potatoes in towards the end of cooking time, as they will need at least 45 minutes to 1 hour to cook through.
Turkey Lentil Soup
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
- 1 10-ounce cans fire-roasted Rotel tomatoes
- 1 cup green or brown lentils, rinsed
- 1 pound leftover turkey, shredded into small pieces
- 2 quarts chicken broth (8 cups)
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 medium Yukon gold potatoes, diced into small cubes (around 1 ¾ - 2 cups)
- salt, to taste (optional)
- black pepper, to taste (optional)
- In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. When the oil shimmers with heat, add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the minced garlic and cook for an additional minute, stirring occasionally.
- Add the Rotel tomatoes, lentils, turkey, chicken broth, and bay leaf, stirring occasionally until it simmers. Cover partially and simmer, stirring every once in a while, until the lentils are tender, around 50 minutes. It’s okay if they aren’t quite done at this point since in the next step you’ll be adding potatoes and continuing to cook.
- Add the diced potatoes and simmer until tender, 10 minutes.
- Discard the bay leaf. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if desired. I usually use a full-flavored broth (not low sodium) and don't need to add additional salt.
- Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with your favorite carb.