Hearty lentil turkey soup with vegetables and rice. Easily made with leftover or fresh turkey pieces.
This lentil turkey soup is an easy, quick, and healthy meal that will help you deal with the leftover turkey from Thanksgiving or Christmas. Full of proteins, full of flavor, a complete and delicious meal in form of a thick soup. Almost a stew.
Another bonus: you could probably cook this dish using only pantry/fridge ingredients, no need for shopping after a holiday.
What do you need?
- The most important ingredient when making soup.
- I always use homemade chicken or turkey bone broth or stock.
- If you cooked a whole turkey for a festive meal, now is the chance to use the carcass to make stock.
- Otherwise, use the best stock you can get, your favorite brand.
- I used 2 liters/ 8.5 cups stock for the soup. That might seem like a lot, but the rice and the lentil will absorb lots of that liquid. The dish will have quite a stewy consistency.
- If you would like to have more liquid in the dish, you can definitely add more stock.
Vegetables: onions, carrots, celeriac or celery stalks, bell pepper, garlic, canned tomatoes.
Spices: bay leaves, dried marjoram (or thyme, if you like), tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, a pinch of sugar, salt, and lots of pepper.
- I used brown lentils.
- Black or green lentils are fine as well, just check the package instructions regarding the cooking time and cook accordingly.
- Brown rice, it is hearty and nutty and a perfect fit for the soup.
- If using white rice, the cooking time will be shorter. In this case, add it later to give the brown lentils a chance to cook before the rice gets too soft.
Fresh or leftover turkey?
- Both versions are great.
- If you want to make the recipe with leftover turkey from the holiday meals, chop or tear the meat into small pieces and add them to the lentil turkey soup during the last minutes of the cooking time. 5 to 8 minutes will be enough time for the meat to get heated through.
- However, if you want to make this soup at any other time of the year, use fresh turkey. Chop it into pieces and add to the soup about 10-15 minutes before the end of the cooking time.
Can you use chicken?
- Definitely. Either fresh chicken or leftover chicken. Use just as described above.
How to make lentil turkey soup?
- Cook the chopped vegetables for about 5-6 minutes until softer. (1)
- Add washed lentils, bay leaves, tomato paste, and canned tomatoes. Stir for 2 more minutes. (2)
- Add stock and marjoram, simmer for about 8 minutes. Cover the pot only partially, leaving a crack open. (3)
- Now comes the washed brown rice. Cook for 35-45 minutes or until the lentils and rice are cooked to your liking, they should be soft but not mushy. (4)
- Add fresh meat during the last 10-15 minutes of the cooking time OR add leftover cooked meat during the last 5-8 minutes of the cooking time. (5)
- Adjust the taste with salt, lots of pepper, balsamic, Worcestershire sauce and sugar. (6)
Check the package instructions of the lentils and rice regarding the cooking times. Adjust accordingly. Be particularly careful about these instructions if you are using other sorts of lentils (green, black) or white rice. White rice definitely needs less time to cook.
The soup is very thick, almost stew-like. You can definitely add more stock, if you would like the dish to be “soupier”.
The sugar is optional, I sometimes add it and sometimes not. I think it has a lot to do with the acidity of the canned tomatoes (some brands are more acidic than others) and with the balsamic vinegar brand. Taste the soup and adjust everything accordingly.
Worcestershire sauce is also optional, but it adds some depth of flavor I have gotten used to. If you don’t have it, you could replace with a the same amount of soy sauce. It might not be the spice of choice when cooking something so un-Asian as a lentil soup, but it works great! In any kind of hearty soup actually.
Can you freeze the soup?
You can freeze the soup, in airtight containers, for up to 3 months. Defrost preferably in the fridge and reheat until very hot.
More soups with rice or lentils:
Lentil Turkey Soup
- 1 onion
- 1 carrot about 150 g/ 3.5 oz
- 1 piece celeriac about 75 g/ 2.5 oz or 2-3 celery stalks
- 1 bell pepper green or red
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 200 g/ 7 oz/ 1 cup brown lentils
- 2 large bay leaves
- 1 heaped tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 can tomatoes about 400 g/ 14 oz
- 2 liter/ 68 fl. oz/ 8 1/2 cups turkey or chicken stock Note 1
- 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
- 100 g/ 3.5 oz/ ½ cup brown rice Note 2
- 350 g/ 12.3 oz turkey fresh or cooked leftovers (Note 3)
- fine sea salt
- lots of ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ – 1 teaspoon sugar optional (Note 4)
- chopped parsley
- Chop the onion, carrot, celeriac or celery, pepper, and garlic finely.
- Heat the oil in a large pot and cook the vegetables for 5-6 minutes, stirring often, until slightly softer.
- Add the washed lentils, bay leaves, tomato paste, diced canned tomatoes and stir for another 2 minutes.
- Add the stock and the dried marjoram. Bring to a boil, and simmer on medium-low, partially covered, for about 8 minutes.
- Add the washed brown rice, bring to a boil again, and simmer for 35-45 minutes or until the rice is done.
- If using fresh turkey, add it to the soup about 15 minutes before the cooking time is up. If using leftover cooked turkey, add during the last 5-8 minutes of the cooking time, it should only get heated through.
- Adjust the taste with salt, lots of freshly ground black pepper, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and sugar. Sprinkle with parsley before serving.
- You can use more stock if you like the soup to be less thick.
- White rice is fine as well, but it has a much shorter cooking time. Check the package instructions and add it later to the soup to allow the lentils to cook properly before the rice gets too soft.
- Cooked turkey or leftovers have different cooking times. Add fresh meat about 15 minutes before the end of the cooking time, but leftovers only during the last minutes, they should only get hot.
- The sugar is optional, it depends on the acidity of the canned tomatoes and vinegar.