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Turkey Tortilla Soup

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Serves 2 as a main course; may be doubled.

  • by Jennifer Armentrout from Fine Cooking
    Issue 81

Soup isn’t an unusual destination for leftover roast turkey, but this soup is anything but ordinary. Based on a recipe for Chicken & Tortilla Soup by Fine Cooking’s former editor in chief and publisher, Martha Holmberg, this Mexican-style soup is bursting with all sorts of interesting flavors and textures. It’s light yet satisfying, and it tastes completely different from the traditional Thanksgiving flavors, so it’s a perfect encore to the big feast.

Looking for more recipes for your turkey encore? Browse our Guide to Thanksgiving for recipes that do more than just make great use of your Thanksgiving leftovers.

  • 1 Tbs. vegetable oil, plus 1-1/2 to 2 cups for frying the tortillas
  • 1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. chili powder
  • 1 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 1 quart homemade turkey or chicken broth, or low-salt canned chicken broth
  • 6 cilantro sprigs
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 6-inch corn tortillas, cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips
  • 1 cup shredded or medium-diced leftover roast turkey
  • 3/4 cup medium-diced fresh tomato
  • 1/2 cup cooked fresh corn kernels (or substitute thawed frozen corn)
  • 1/2 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
Garnishes:
  • 1/2 to 1 ripe avocado, medium-diced
  • 1/4 cup crumbled queso fresco or feta cheese
  • 3 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 Tbs. sour cream, or to taste (optional)
  • 1/2 lime, cut into wedges

Heat the 1 Tbs. oil in a medium (3-quart) saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until softened and just beginning to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the chili powder and tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 15 to 30 seconds; don’t let the chili powder scorch. Pour in the broth and scrape the bottom of the pan with the spoon to loosen any cooked-on bits. Add the cilantro sprigs and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, uncovered, until the broth has reduced by about a third and is very flavorful, 20 to 30 minutes. Discard the cilantro sprigs and season to taste with salt.

While the broth reduces, fry the tortilla strips:

Line a plate or tray with two layers of paper towels. Pour 1 inch of vegetable oil into a small, high-sided saucepan (a 6-inch-diameter pan needs about 1-1/2 cups of oil). If you have a candy thermometer, attach it to the pot. Heat the oil over medium heat until it reaches 350°F, or until a tortilla strip sizzles immediately when dipped into the oil. Add 8 to 10 tortilla strips and scrunch them with tongs for a few seconds to give them a wavy shape. Fry until the bubbling subsides and the strips are crisp and very lightly browned, about 1 minute. Transfer to the paper towels to drain, and sprinkle with a little salt while they’re still hot. Repeat with the remaining strips.

Divide the turkey, tomato, corn, beans, and tortilla strips between two large soup bowls. If necessary, reheat the broth until it’s piping hot. Pour the broth over the ingredients in the bowls. Garnish with the avocado, cheese, cilantro, dollops of sour cream (if using), and big squeezes of lime juice. Serve immediately.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on two servings; Calories (kcal): 740; Fat (g): 41; Fat Calories (kcal): 360; Saturated Fat (g): 9; Protein (g): 44; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 17; Carbohydrates (g): 59; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 12; Sodium (mg): 740; Cholesterol (mg): 75; Fiber (g): 13;

Photo: Scott Phillips

This is an EXCELLENT soup. Healthy and incredibly tasty. I don't make the tortilla strips. I crush Doritos and sprinkle some on top of each bowl as a garnish (a little more control on the amount). I also use the entire 6 oz can of tomato paste and add diced fresh tomatoes as part of the garnish. We prefer the turkey to be shredded (I make the turkey breast in the crock pot and shred). Huge hit in our house!!!! The lime amazingly adds the perfect flavor! We also make a Southwest Caesar Salad to go with it.

I altered this recipe slightly, because I wanted to use what I had on-hand. I used chicken (although this will be my go-to way to utilize excess turkey next TG), and sliced, oiled, and oven-baked fresh tortilla strips instead of frying them. But I basically followed the rest of the recommendations, even using feta, which I don't like. But this recipe was excellent! I'd intended to eat the last little bit for lunch the next day, but it was so good, I ate it for breakfast.

I admit I did alter the recipe a bit, but it was a great way to use the turkey carcass for the broth and meat. I doubled the recipe and added 1 tsp. of groud cumin with the chile powder. After simmering for about 20 minutes I added the corn, black beans, an undrained can of Rotel tomatoes with chilis (instead of fresh) and 1 large can of drained white hominy. I let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Excellent soup!

This recipe is fabulous! A true winner.

Great flavor - I added some ground cumin- where I toasted the seeds and ground it myself. Drained petite dice tomatoes instead of fresh. Penzey's medium-hot chili powder.

This was great! I used chicken and homemade chicken stock instead, and I baked the tortilla strips instead of frying them. This was even better as leftovers the second day!

This recipe really is a great way to use your leftover turkey in an unexpected way. I skipped the tortillas and only used lime juice and cilantro for the garnishes. I'm sure that store bought stock would be great, but the homemade turkey stock was excellent.

Great way to use leftover turkey! I added a sprinkle of cayenne pepper at the end. Of the suggested garnishes, the lime is most important to flavor the soup.

I made this soup for a casual dinner with friends and everyone loved it--even the one who doesn't like Mexican food. I used leftover roasted chicken and canned stock and it was great. The toppings really make the soup!

I made this recipe with leftover chicken and canned chicken stock. It was very good. The extra stuff you add to the broth transforms it into a delicious soup. You could even use shrimp. And the garnishes make it fun to eat. One thing though, this is not a masa-thickened tortilla soup like you will commonly find.

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