For soup enthusiasts across America, the post-Thanksgiving turkey broth can be as sacred as the holiday meal itself. In many households, even before the dishes and the leftovers are packed away, the turkey carcass and trimmings are nestled into a pot of water for their hourslong simmer. Leftover turkey soup is a cozy way to keep Thanksgiving’s bountiful spirit going for several more meals.
This recipe leans toward the heartier, stick-to-your-ribs side of the soup spectrum. Chickpeas and farro give it a nubby texture that can be thick and stewlike, though it can also be thinner and brothier if you add more liquid.
Because there’s already so much going on in the pot, this soup can take as much or as little shredded leftover turkey as you are willing to spare from your sandwich reserve — from a couple of cups to a quart. Then again, if you run out, shredded cooked chicken works just as well.
I used pearled farro here, which softens in 20 to 30 minutes. But any grain will work as long as you modify the cooking time accordingly. White rice will be ready in 15 to 20 minutes, while brown rice or barley can take as long as an hour. Keep an eye on the liquid level, adding more water or broth as it evaporates while simmering. And lingering near the pot has the added benefit of enveloping you in a fragrant cloud of aromatics and spices.
To give the soup its robust, unforgettable flavor, I added some baharat to the pot along with the tomato paste, letting everything toast and caramelize. Baharat, a combination of cumin and bay leaves perfumed with cinnamon, cardamom and coriander, adds both sweet and musky notes, rounding and integrating all the other ingredients. Other spice mixes would work similar magic, each adding character to the soup. Use whatever you’ve already collected in your spice drawer, like garam masala, curry powder or Cajun seasoning. Just be sure to taste as you go.
This soup has so much oomph that it doesn’t require a garnish to bring it to life. But a squeeze of lemon juice, a handful of cilantro and a dusting of Parmesan won’t hurt it either. Thanksgiving turkey soup is a rite whose only tenet is coziness.