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This Leftover Turkey Tortellini Soup checks multiple boxes. It’s great for the day-after-Thanksgiving and turkey leftovers, great year-round, nutritious, delicious, and very easy and quick to prepare!
Escarole is one of those comforting Italian-American vegetables that warms my soul and that I really love. . .pretty much any way that it is made—in Italian Wedding Soup with mini-meatballs, with creamy cannellini beans in Greens & Beans, alone in a hearty, homemade chicken broth or here in this simple and quick brothy soup with tortellini and pieces of savory, roasted turkey.
And, this simple soup is a great way to use up some leftover holiday turkey! Often, we are so tired on the day after the big meal that we can’t even think about cooking one more thing. The beauty of this recipe is that you basically add all of your ingredients to the pot (at varying times during the cooking process), let it simmer, and magic is made. You can even prep all the ingredients the day prior when you are in full cooking mode, and then just make the soup quickly the following day.
Leftover Turkey Tortellini Soup is hearty enough to serve as a complete meal, and works all season long–not just at holiday time! I make this soup regularly with leftover pulled roast or rotisserie chicken. Don’t forget to top each steaming bowl of soup with a hearty sprinkle of Pecorino Romano cheese for a sharp and salty finish.
To make Leftover Turkey Tortellini Soup, we will be using the following ingredients:
- Tortellini: Tortellini has such a great texture! It adds a great amount of heartiness, flavor and texture to the soup. Use whichever flavor of tortellini you prefer, but plain cheese tortellini works really well with the other flavors in the soup.
- Escarole: A mildly bitter, leafy green that holds up well to longer cooking techniques and braising. Escarole is also super-nutritious. Feel free to use spinach or any other dark leafy green that you prefer!
- Turkey Meat: The heart of the soup! Although this soup was designed as the perfect day-after-Thanksgiving dish and has loads of protein form the turkey, it could easily stand on its own as a vegetarian soup without the meat. And, this is a great year-round soup that works perfectly with chicken as well.
- Yellow Onions, Carrots, Celery and Garlic: These aromatics are important components in building a strong base of flavor in many soups.
- Broth: Homemade is always preferred. If purchased, I always suggest a low- or no-sodium version. Regular varieties are laden with sodium and it is always better for you to control the amount of salt in the final product! For this soup, turkey, chicken and vegetable broth all work well.
- Pecorino or Parmigiano Cheese Rind: Adds a savory depth and body to the broth. In addition, add some grated Pecorino Romano cheese to top off the finished soup–you will love it!
- Olive Oil: Used to sauté the vegetables.
A complete and detailed list of ingredients with amounts and instructions is included in the recipe below.
Step-By-Step, Pro-Tips included!
Here are the main steps for how to make Leftover Turkey Tortellini Soup:
- Prep and measure all ingredients. Be sure to rinse or peel all vegetables before using, and cut or hand-tear the escarole into bite-sized pieces.
- PRO-TIP: To save time when cooking, prep the escarole in advance and store it in a zip-lock bag in the refrigerator for up to one day.
- Sweat the onions, carrots, celery and garlic in a large pot until mostly softened, then add the broth and cheese rind to the pot. Simmer for about 10 to 5 minutes to allow the flavors to develop.
- Then, add the escarole and return the mixture to a boil.
- PRO-TIP: Use a pot that is at least 6 quarts so that you have plenty of room!
- Next, add the tortellini and the turkey and cook until the tortellini are al dente. Be sure to stir regularly so that the pasta does not stick or get clumpy.
- Once the tortellini are done, turn off the heat, remove any remaining cheese rind, season the soup to your liking, then serve it piping hot with a generous sprinkle of grated Pecorino Romano cheese. That’s it!
Recipe Variations for Leftover Turkey Tortellini Soup
Here are a few ideas for simple twists for this Leftover Turkey Tortellini Soup:
- Change the Meat: Chicken works just as perfectly as turkey in this soup!
- Add Sausage: If you are up for a heartier and richer soup, start by browning ½ pound bulk Italian sausage in the pot, then proceeding with the rest of the recipe.
- Lighten It Up! Without the tortellini, this is actually a very light soup that could be a great starter to a weeknight meal.
- Use a Different Green: Spinach and swiss chard are good alternatives to the escarole. Or, use any dark leafy green of your choice!
- Increase the Plant-Based Protein: Add 8 to 12 ounces cooked beans to this soup along with the escarole to increase its protein and heartiness.
- Make it Gluten-Free: Make this soup gluten-free by substituting gluten-free pasta for the tortellini or leaving them out completely.
What to Serve With Leftover Turkey Tortellini Soup
Leftover Turkey Tortellini Soup is a hearty soup that could easily be a meal in and of itself. A light green salad and some crusty bread are the perfect accompaniments.
Kitchen Tools & Cookware for Leftover Turkey Tortellini Soup
To make this Leftover Turkey Tortellini Soup recipe, you will need the following:
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Multiple bowls to hold prep
- Cutting board with non-slip mat underneath (I use shelf liner)
- Sharp chef’s knife
- Cheese grater (optional)
- Large pot or Dutch oven to make soup
- Large spoon to stir soup
- Serving bowls and spoons
More Great Recipes to Try
If you’ve tried this recipe or any other recipe on the blog, please let me know how it went in the comments below — I love hearing from you!
Leftover Turkey Tortellini Soup
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup small diced yellow onion
- 1/2 cup small diced celery
- 1/2 cup small diced carrots
- 2 Tbsp chopped garlic
- 8 cups turkey or chicken broth, low- or no-sodium
- 1 parmigiano or pecorino rind, if available
- 1 head escarole, rinsed and cut into bite-sized pieces
- 8 ounces cheese tortellini
- 2 or more cups turkey meat, chopped
- 1 tsp salt, or to taste
- 1/4 tsp black pepper, or to taste
- Grated Pecorino Romano cheese, to sprinkle on finished soup
- Prep all ingredients according to specifications above.
- Add the oil, onions, celery, carrots and garlic to a large pot or Dutch oven (at least 6 quarts) over medium-low heat and cook, covered, for 5 to 7 minutes or until the vegetables have mostly softened, stirring occasionally.
- Add 2 cups of the broth to the pot and deglaze, if necessary, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pot. Then, pour the remainder of the broth into the pot, along with the cheese rind, if including. Cover, increase heat to medium high, and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally.
- Once the mixture comes to a boil, uncover the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for approximately 10 to 15 minutes so that the flavors will develop and the rind will infuse into the broth. Make sure all the vegetables are tender at this point.
- Add the escarole, stir, cover the pot, and bring the mixture back up to a boil.
- Uncover the pot, add the tortellini and turkey, and cook until the tortellini are al dente, stirring regularly so that the pasta does not stick.
- Once the tortellini are done, turn off the heat, season with salt and black pepper, and remove any remaining cheese rind.
- Serve piping hot with a generous sprinkle of grated Pecorino Romano cheese. Buon Appetito!
- This recipe can easily be cut in half to yield a smaller amount. If you do this, you can use a smaller pot.
- Feel free to substitute chicken for the turkey and spinach for the escarole. Both would be great in this recipe!
- Also, for additional protein or as a substitute for the meat, use 2 cups cooked cannellini beans stirred into the soup at the same time as the escarole.
- To save time when cooking, prep the escarole in advance and store it in a zip-lock bag in the refrigerator for up to one day.