Body Preservation: Roasted Turkey, Sausage, Kale & Broccoli Soup (from leftovers … sorta.)

I can’t decide if posting this recipe now is good timing or bad.

This soup could be considered a good use for leftover turkey, but there’s a catch. We all know what the traditional holiday meal looks like, and this recipe requires you to reserve the turkey’s pan drippings for soup stock. I fear many folks will be unwilling to forego gravy for Thanksgiving (or Christmas) dinner.

I’m going to post the recipe now anyway, because November is a fine time to buy turkeys on sale to stash away for future use, when gravy is less crucial. (A frozen bird will keep for 2-3 years in a good freezer, though cooking it within seven months is recommended.)

turkey sausage kale broccoli soup, perfect

Because our family loves this soup so much, we roast turkeys willy-nilly, all through the year. (Whenever turkey goes on sale, in any cool month, even on a rainy July weekend.)

On Roasting Night, we eat a version of a traditional turkey meal, sans gravy. Often, I’ll make a flavorful stuffing (baked separately from the turkey) and candied yams, which makes us miss the mashed potatoes less.

Even after feasting on Roasting Night, and setting aside a generous portion of leftover turkey for use in the soup, plenty of  meat remains for sandwiches and turkey salad. One turkey will feed us for a week, if we wedge a pizza or some take-out Chinese into our meal plan.

NOTE: If you’re desperate to use up leftover turkey, but didn’t save the turkey stock, you could make this soup entirely with homemade or purchased chicken stock but, I promise you, it will not be as gloriously delicious as it can be when you use the pan juices from a turkey. (It’s all about the collagen and gelatin from the bones, I suspect. It gives the soup its surprisingly luxurious mouth-feel.) I’ve made the same recipe with a chicken, and it’s not as rich – I think chickens give up less succulent juice. (It’s still darn tasty though.)

Roasted Turkey, Sausage, Kale and Broccoli Soup


1) At least a day before the soup will be made, roast a turkey.

I don’t use a rack or anything special, just a heavy  10X13 steel baking pan. (It might be the bottom of a broiler pan.) I remove any plastic braces and pop-up timers. I rub some olive oil into the bird’s skin then sprinkle liberally with salt and fresh ground pepper. Then I bake according to the package instructions. That’s it.

2) When the turkey is cooked, remove bird to a platter and contemplate the luscious juices left behind.

3) Strain the drippings into a kettle or other wide mouth metal or glass container and refrigerate.

4) After enjoying whatever meal you have planned for night one, remove all good turkey meat from the carcass and refrigerate.


You will need:

  • 1 to 1.5 pounds of good Italian sausage, ground. (We prefer spicy. The better the sausage, the better the soup.)
  • about 2 -3 cups chopped cooked turkey (Both white and dark meat.)
  • reserved turkey juices, defatted (See below.)
  • 1/2 bag broccoli  shreds / slaw* (Found near the pre-packaged salads and vegetables at the super market. See below.)
  • 4 – 6 leaves kale (Depending your affinity for kale and the size of the leaves in your bunch.)
  • 1 32 oz. box chicken or turkey broth (Here’s the brand I use.)
  • cream, for serving (Two to three teaspoons per serving.)

NUTRITION NOTES: This is a low carb recipe. Kale, broccoli, and turkey are all superfoods.

* Use up the leftover broccoli shreds / slaw by mixing it with a simple dressing of mayo, salt and pepper. This slaw can top cold turkey in a sandwich to add crunch.


1) Brown sausage over medium to medium high heat in a heavy stock pot. (If the sausage is lean, use a tablespoon or so of olive oil to prevent sticking.)

2) While sausage is cooking, scrape fat layer off reserved turkey juices. (Discard fat unless you know something good to do with schmaltz.)

3) When sausage is cooked through, add defatted stock to pot. It will be like Jello, but will melt quickly.

4) Chop leftover turkey and add to pot.

5) Add supplementary chicken broth.

6) Add half a package of broccoli shreds / slaw to pot.

7) Remove and discard kale stems, then chop kale into bite-sized pieces.

8) Add kale to pot.

soup with vegetables

9) Taste.

It is possible that you could add some salt or pepper, but this soup seasons itself because of the sausage. If, after all ingredients have been combined, the broth is very rich, you may add a cup or two of water – just to stretch the soup.

The soup is done as soon as the broccoli shreds are tender to the tooth. It does not not need to simmer on the back of the stove, though doing so won’t hurt it.

The soup is good as as, but adding a couple of teaspoons of cream to the bowl takes it over the top. Do not add the cream into the pot of soup. If you do, the cream may curdle upon reheating.

Click here for simplified, printable recipe.


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