Turkey Tortellini Soup

After the Thanksgiving turkey has been enjoyed, use the leftovers to make this easy Turkey Tortellini Soup recipe. With a rich broth and a bright shot of lemon, this isn’t your ordinary leftover turkey soup. 

stockpot of tortellini soup with two white serving bowls of soup with spoons in them

One of the best things about Thanksgiving is the leftovers —that and time spent with family and friends, the football and the card games (Tripoley, anyone?). And this year with the leftovers from our brined roast turkey breast, I’m making Turkey Tortellini Soup. It’s a big dose of comfort food that comes together in under 30 minutes leaving you plenty of time for all the board games, football and family you can handle. 

And let’s face it – we all have our limits with some of those. I’ll never admit which.

Let’s make some leftover turkey soup.

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Stock Options

LIke with any broth-based soup, you always have options. 

Homemade turkey stock. To make homemade turkey stock from the turkey carcass:

  • Place the turkey carcass and a bundle of your favorite herbs (thyme, sage, Italian parsley), a few washed, unpeeled carrots, peeled and quartered yellow onion in a large stockpot. Add 1/4 cup of whole peppercorns Pour in just enough cold water to cover the ingredients. Bring to a boil and let simmer for a couple of hours. Strain and when cool, refrigerate overnight. Remove the fat (it won’t be too much) that rises to the top to reveal the luscious turkey stock below.

Premade turkey stock. Use your favorite brand of turkey stock – here are some I love.

Best pasta for soup

cutting board with knife, a chopped onion, white bowl of raw tortellini and white plate of turkey breast and Italian sausage

For this Thanksgiving turkey soup, we are using cheese tortellini because it’s a great counterbalance to the turkey and the spiciness added from Italian sausage. The best kind of tortellini for soup is frozen because it doesn’t take a long time to cook so it can’t expand too much in the broth.

And there’s a little trick to keep the pasta from growing too much.

How to stop pasta from absorbing soup

Here are some tips to guarantee the pasta will not get mushy in the soup:

  • Pre-cook the pasta to a little less than al dente (btw which means to the tooth). For the tortellini, I cooked it for about 2 minutes and then added it to the soup right at the end before serving. It finishes cooking in the broth and doesn’t absorb more broth as it cools.
  • If using pasta other than tortellini, you can alway cook it just to al dente which is a minute or so less than directed on the package. 
  • Add only as much pasta as you need to each individual bowl right before serving.

The process

  • Cook up some sausage and sage in a skillet over medium heat until browned evenly. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
  • Add chopped onions and spices to the skillet with a little more olive oil, if needed. Cook the onion for about 5 minutes or until golden and then add the garlic right at the end.
  • To this, add the tomato paste and swirl around to caramelize.
  • Add the turkey stock and cook for about 15 minutes or so to meld all the flavors together.
  • Right at the end, add some diced leftover turkey (skin removed), the cooked sausage, tortellini, handfuls of fresh spinach and two big squeezes of lemon. 

Oh and parmesan. We can’t forget the cheese.

Creamy turkey soup

If you’re a creamy turkey soup fan, feel free to add ½ cup of heavy cream when you add the stock. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste as well.

Variations + serving suggestions

white bowl with tortellini soup and a spoon in it with some lemons
  • Add your favorite veggies to the soup like carrots, leftover roasted butternut squash or corn.
  • Use spicy Italian sausage if you like to shake things up a bit!
  • Serve with focaccia bread or whip up my easy veggie sandwich for easy weeknight meal.

Storage tips

Storage. Refrigerate any leftovers for up to three days. 

Freezer. Leftover turkey soup can be frozen.

Made this recipe?

I’d love it if you’d share your review and leave a star rating and comment!

stockpot of tortellini soup with two white serving bowls of soup with spoons in them.
5 from 1 vote

Turkey Tortellini Soup

The best way to use leftover turkey. This soup is comfort in a bowl with cheese tortellini and Italian sausage.
Prep Time:10 minutes
Cook Time:20 minutes
Total Time:30 minutes
Servings 6



  • Cook the tortellini in salted, boiling water for half the time according to the package directions (approximately 2 minutes). Drain in a colander and set aside.
    12 oz bag frozen cheese tortellini
  • Heat a 4 qt. soup or saucepan and add a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the sausage and sage. Cook until no longer pink about 8 minutes, crumbling while cooking with a spatula or wooden spoon. Remove from pan to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
    2 Tablespoons olive oil, 2-3 links of Italian sausage or 1/2 lb bulk sausage, ½ teaspoon dried sage
  • In the same skillet, add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and add the chopped onion. Saute for about 5 minutes until lightly golden. Add the garlic at the end and saute for 30 seconds until fragrant.
    ½ onion, 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt, ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper, 2 cloves garlic
  • Add the tomato paste to the soup pan and swirl around in the pan until caramelized about 1-2 minutes.
    3 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • To the soup pan, add the turkey stock. Stir the soup and allow it to come to a very low boil, cooking for 15 minutes total.
    2 quarts turkey stock
  • Add turkey, reserved sausage, tortellini and spinach to the soup during the last 2-3 minutes of cooking. Stir until the spinach has wilted and the tortellini is cooked. Taste for seasoning adding the additional teaspoon of salt if needed.
    ½ whole cooked turkey breast, 8 oz fresh baby spinach
  • Squeeze the lemon into the soup (minus the seeds!). Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
    ½ lemon, grated Parmesan cheese


Serving Suggestions. Lemon wedges, grated Parmesan cheese and some fried sage leaves.
Turkey. My Brined Roast Turkey Breast Recipe is a great first step for this soup.
Sausage. You can use bulk Italian sausage as well as spicy sausage if you want to shake things up.
Creamy Version. If you’re a creamy turkey soup fan, feel free to add ½ cup of heavy cream when you add the stock. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste as well.
Course: Dinner, First Course, Lunch, Soup
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Lori Murphy
Did you make this recipe? Tag @josieandnina or tag #josieandnina!

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