Turkey and Dumplings Soup
This hearty turkey and dumplings soup filled with turkey, vegetables, and fluffy buttermilk dumplings cooked right on top is a great way to use leftover turkey!
One of the best things about Thanksgiving is the leftovers, am I right? But even I can only eat so many turkey sandwiches before enough is enough. These turkey and dumplings are the perfect solution, turning leftovers into a completely new and different (and delicious!) meal. My family loves it! And I know yours will too.
Loaded up with carrots, potatoes, onions and turkey in a rich broth, the soup is fabulous enough on its own. But the dumplings on top are what really sends this dish to the next level. It’s cozy and satisfying, and exactly the kind of meal you’ll want on a chilly fall or winter day.
If you have turkey bones you can even use them to make a homemade broth that serves as the base for this turkey dumpling soup. But don’t worry, you can use pre-made broth or stock in this recipe too.
Table of Contents
- What are dumplings?
- Ingredients you’ll need
- How to make homemade turkey broth (optional)
- How to make turkey and dumplings soup
- Other cozy soup recipes
- Get this recipe
What are dumplings?
Dumplings can mean a lot of different things, but in this context it’s a simple dough that’s either rolled out and cut, or portioned with a spoon and dropped right into a simmering soup to cook.
Dumplings are soft, tender, with lots of great flavor from both the dumpling itself and the broth it’s cooked in. No need to serve bread or rolls alongside this soup, it’s built right in!
Ingredients you’ll need
- Cooked turkey— White or dark meat, whatever thanksgiving leftovers you have. (This recipe can also be made with chicken.)
- Vegetables— Onions, carrots, potatoes, garlic, and fresh thyme.
- Turkey broth— Either homemade or store-bought.
- Apple cider— The secret ingredient! It adds flavor and a hint of sweetness. (NOT apple cider vinegar, I’ve had a few readers make that mistake.)
- Buttermilk dumplings— made with flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, kosher salt and buttermilk.
How to make homemade turkey broth (optional)
This is a completely optional step, but if you have any bones leftover from your Thanksgiving turkey, this is an easy way to infuse your soup with so much rich flavor. And thankfully, making homemade broth isn’t hard at all to make!
- Prepare turkey bones. Remove any excess fat or skin, and any turkey you hope to use for the soup.
- Add to a pot with vegetables and cover with cold water. Place onions, carrots, and celery in a large pot along with turkey bones and fresh herbs. Cover everything with cold water.
- Simmer for 2 hours. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer. Stock needs a lot of time to extract the flavor from the bones and veggies. If you are short on time you can simmer for 30-60 minutes and add 1 Tbsp bouillon paste.
- Strain the broth. Use tongs to remove large bones and veggies and then pass the broth through a fine mesh strainer.
- Use immediately or store in the fridge. You can use the prepared stock right away in this soup, or it can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 5-7 days.
How to make turkey and dumplings soup
- Cook onions, carrots and garlic. Melt butter in a large pot or dutch oven and cook veggies until softened, about 5 minutes. Add flour and cook for 1-2 minutes more.
- Add broth, apple cider, potatoes, s&p and thyme. Pour in the broth while whisking so it absorbs the flour, then add other ingredients. Simmer for about 10 minutes until the potatoes start to soften.
- Mix dumpling dough. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the buttermilk and combine just until no dry ingredients remain.
- Add turkey and spoon dumplings onto soup. Once turkey has been added, use a spoon or spring-loaded cookie scoop to evenly drop dumplings on top of the soup.
- Cover with a lid and cook till dumplings are done. Top with lid so there’s a 1-inch opening to let some steam escape. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes until dumplings appear dry on top (time will depend on size of dumplings).
Yes, this recipe can be made with chicken and chicken broth instead of turkey.
Homemade broth can be stored in the fridge for 5-7 days, or in the freezer for several months.
You can use any high quality apple cider or apple juice in this recipe. I like to use Simply Apple juice. If you don’t have any, you can substitute for more broth. DO NOT use apple cider vinegar.
The dumplings are cooked from the bottom up, so once the tops appear dry they are cooked through and ready to eat.
Green beans, peas and corn are other vegetables you can add to this soup if you like. You can also use another herb like rosemary or sage, or a combination. I prefer fresh herbs for the best flavor (and I usually have them around at Thanksgiving time too).
You can prepare this soup and store in the pot it’s cooked in (if it’s oven proof). When ready to enjoy, warm in a 350°F oven for 30 minutes. A lot of the broth will get soaked up by the dumplings as it sits so it will be a lot less soup-like. But still tasty!
Other cozy soup recipes
Get this recipe
This recipe was originally published November 2019.
Turkey and Dumplings Soup
Homemade Turkey Broth (optional):
- Leftover turkey bones
- 1 small onion , quartered
- 2 carrots , chopped into large chunks
- 1 stalk celery , chopped into large chunks
- 1 small bunch of herbs like rosemary, thyme, sage and parsley
- Water , as needed
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup chopped carrots (70 grams, 1 medium carrot)
- 1 small onion , chopped
- 1 clove garlic , minced
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 cups turkey or chicken broth , homemade or store-bought (1 quart, about 1 liter)
- 1 cup quality apple juice or cider (see Note) (220 grams)
- 1 ½ cups chopped potatoes (150 grams, 2-3 potatoes)
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- 2-3 cups cooked shredded turkey (200-300 grams)
- ½ cup milk or cream (112 grams)
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour (180 grams)
- ½ cup cornmeal (70 grams)
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 cup buttermilk (227 grams)
To make the stock:
- Remove any excess skin and fat from the bones. Make sure to remove any turkey meat you hope to use for another purpose; any meat left on the bone will be very tough by the time the stock is done.
- Place the turkey bones in a large stock pot and add vegetables and herbs. Add enough cold water to cover all of the bones.
- Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 2 hours, adding more water as needed to keep the bones covered. Occasionally skim the surface of the stock with a spoon to remove any "scum" that may develop as it cooks.
- Pour stock through a fine mesh strainer. If desired, you can further strain out impurities by passing stock through a coffee filter.
- Pour into quart-sized containers and store in the fridge for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to several months. Or use right away!
To Make the Soup:
- In a large pot melt the butter over medium heat. Add the carrots, onion and garlic and stir until soft and onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add flour and stir until vegetables are coated.
- Slowly pour in the turkey stock while whisking until it's all incorporated. Add the apple cider, potatoes, salt, pepper and thyme.
- Bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until potatoes are just starting to tenderize.
- Stir in the turkey and milk/cream.
To Make the Dumplings:
- While the soup is simmering, prepare the dumplings. Mix the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
- Add the buttermilk and stir just until no streaks of dry ingredients remain, do not over mix.
- Drop the dumpling batter by 1/4 cupfuls on top of the soup. Try to evenly space them, but it doesn't need to be perfect.
- Cover the pot with the lid so that there's a 1-inch opening for steam to escape and simmer for 15 minutes until dumplings appear dry on top and are cooked all the way through.
- Serve soup immediately, store leftovers in the fridge for up to 1 week.
- Several readers have misread the recipe and used apple cider vinegar in place of apple juice or cider, do not make that mistake! I use Simply Apple juice.
- If you’re short on time while making the homemade broth, you can simmer for only 30-60 minutes and add 1 Tbsp of bouillon paste.
- This recipe can also be made with chicken instead of turkey.
- To make ahead: You can prepare this soup and store in the pot it’s cooked in (if it’s oven proof). When ready to enjoy, warm in a 350°F oven for 30 minutes. A lot of the broth will get soaked up by the dumplings as it sits so it will be a lot less soup-like. But still tasty!