Repurpose your leftover turkey and side dishes into a rich, velvety soup.

"Garbage soup" is the perfect combination of thrift and alchemy to use up all of your Thanksgiving leftovers. After you've had your fill of gobbler sandwiches and are faced with a hodge-podge of Thanksgiving scraps, think about making this savory dish.

Not only will it save you tons of fridge space, it makes cleaning up a breeze. Plan ahead and give it a try this year!

boiling water

Ingredients (serves 8)

  • 10 cups water
  • 1 turkey carcass and scraps of cooked turkey meat
  • Assorted vegetables including cooked peas, corn, carrots, butternut squash, etc.
  • 2 cups (or more) bread or cornbread stuffing
  • 2 cups (or more) mashed potatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste


Start by boiling 10 cups of water in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the turkey carcass and let it simmer on low for at least two hours. Top it off with water as needed, and stir it every now and then.

Strain the resulting clear both into a large bowl, then return it to the pot. Pick out large pieces of meat from the debris and add them to the broth along with any additional carved turkey you may have. Dump in your leftovers now: the veggies, the stuffing, the mashed potatoes, and all. You can even add any gravy or baked casseroles that didn't get eaten.

Stir as the soup boils, and watch it for about 20 minutes as all the flavors combine. Hold yourself back and don't tweak it until the very end with the salt and pepper. Chances are, you won't actually need to add anything since each individual component was already well-seasoned. Thin the soup out with additional water or milk—you're shooting for a thick chowder-like consistency.


  • While the star of this soup is clearly the turkey, the other dominant flavors will be the herbs in the stuffing and the creamy mashed potatoes. Don't skimp on these and hold back at least two cups of each, or make a little extra.
  • Any kind of cooked vegetables taste great in this dish. Yes, even the fried onions on top of a green bean casserole will add a little something special. If you don't typically have many leftovers, buy an extra bag of frozen mixed vegetables to add to the pot.
  • The only things from the Thanksgiving table that shouldn't go in this soup are your desserts, rolls, and cranberry sauce. Pretty much everything else can go right in!
  • This soup will taste like the best potato soup you've ever had. Freeze a few portions for later in the winter, when you need something cozy for dinner.

As crazy as this recipe sounds, it will come together like a dream. It also distills the best flavors of your big traditional meal all down into one pot. Bon appétit!

Does your family make garbage soup every year, or do you do something else with your leftovers? Let us know in the comments!