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Uses for leftovers – Part II: Our Christmas Dinner Turkey Soup and what to do with leftover Turkey

In Greece the only time we Roast a Turkey is either on Christmas day or during the New Year.  I always cook it on Christmas Day, so I make all the preparation on Christmas Eve and while everyone is still asleep on Christmas day I roast it in the oven for 3 – 4 hours, depending on how big it is.

What we love most in roasting the turkey is the stuffing, so I did not change anything to this delicious recipe, except for adding two kinds of raisins: sultana and black Corinthian raisins.   Usually, we have lots of leftovers the following day and I was hoping to have some this year as well in order to rest on Sunday, but it was so delicious that whatever was left from lunch disappeared in the evening, except for the two drumsticks.

The filling was with chicken livers, almonds, raisins and some rice to absorb all the juices.

The turkey was roasted with lemony potatoes, salt, pepper and oregano and with about 1 cup of olive oil and just a little water.  To cook the turkey I wrapped the whole baking tin in aluminum foil and cooked it for two hours.   It was then cooked uncovered, turning once for about 1 1/2 more hours.

I made our favourite Lahanosalata (Cabbage Salad).  This recipe is included in the cookbook but I have a picture before mixing the ingredients, so that you can see most of the ingredients.

These Tyropitakia are so easy to make and so delicious.   Feta wrapped in crispy phyllo and deep fried.  Another recipe which is included in the cookbook with step by step instructions how to make them.

During the holidays we usually buy bread for 2 – 3 days, so eating stale bread is not so pleasant.  As soon as you take the turkey out of the oven cut some slices of bread and bake them for about ten minutes.  You simply have fresh hot bread again.

It’s even more delicious, as soon as they are out of the oven to drizzle some olive oil on top and sprinkle some salt, pepper and oregano.

Of course, Tzatziki is a must in every  Greek table.   What make real Greek tzatziki delicious is primarily the Greek yoghurt.

In the evening I put the carcass of the turkey and bones, after removing the meat from the drumsticks and put it in the refrigerator with the turkey drippings.

The next morning I put it in a pot and filled it with water and added the drippings which were about 1 cup.  After bringing to boil, I lowered the heat and simmered it for about 2 hours.

When it cooled, even if you’ve removed all the meat you think you could have removed, I managed to get about 2 cups of meat.  I put this in a bowl with a lid in the refrigerator and the broth which was about 2 1/2 – 3 litres,  in another.

The advantage of refrigerating the broth is that the fat rises on top, so you can remove as much fat as you like, although in my opinion that’s the most tasty part.  I removed half of the fat.

Turkey vegetable stock

On Sunday I made a Chicken Recipe, using some of the broth.  This recipe will be posted another day but yesterday I made the most delicious Turkey soup.

To make the soup

The beauty of this soup is that you can use any vegetables you have available in your refrigerator as well as the herbs and spices you love and just a little bit of salt.  This soup is based on a similar recipe I have in the cookbook which I make with meat. If you need a more filling soup to eat it as a main course add some rice or pasta just before it is ready.

You can eat the soup by just adding some raw olive oil and lemon but I chose to mash it in a food processor first, then add the lemon juice and cook it for 5 more minutes with the tiny pasta called peponaki.
Peponaki (from “peponi” which means, melon) is similar to orzo and it’s exactly the size of rice. It is named peponaki because of its resemblance to melon seeds.
I served this with Greek yoghurt diluted with a little water, so as to make it creamy.

This soup was so delicious that we all hands seconds.

At the end you will find an updated recipe using the carcass to make Turkey Trahanas Soup.

Greek Homemade Turkey Soup, Recipe by Ivy

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Serves: 6 – 8


  • 1 turkey carcass
  • 1 cup drippings
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely cut
  • 1 clove garlic, finely cut
  • 2 medium potatoes, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 cup celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 ripe tomato, peeled and grated
  • 1 cup cabbage, finely chopped
  • 1 cup frozen vegetables (peas, carrots, corn)
  • ½ cup various bell peppers, red, orange, green
  • 1 cup white dry wine
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp various whole peppercorns (red, black, green, white)
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp ground coriander
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups, turkey meat, bite-sized pieces
  • 1 ½ litres turkey broth
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ½ cup tiny pasta (peponaki)
  • 200 ml Greek yoghurt dissolved with ¼ cup water (or milk)


  1. Put turkey carcass and any leftover turkey bones as well as the drippings in large pot and cover with water.
  2. Bring to boil, lower heat and simmer for 2 hours.  Set aside to cool and remove any meat.
  3. Heat the olive oil and sauté the onion and garlic until translucent.  Add all the vegetables and sauté about five minutes.  Add the wine and mix
  4. Season with salt and all the dried herbs and spices.
  5. Add the turkey broth and bring to boil.  Lower heat and simmer for 1 hour until all the vegetables are soft.
  6. Add turkey meat and lemon juice and remove bay leaf.
  7. Allow the soup to cool before puréeing it in the food processor.
  8. Bring back to boil and finally add pasta and cook for five minutes.

Dilute yoghurt with water to make a cream.  Serve with yoghurt on top.

You can serve it with croutons or baked bread as above.

turkey soup 2013

Update:  27 December 2014

This year I made the soup somewhat different.  I cooked the vegetables together with the bones and made the broth.  I strained the vegetables and after removing the bones, I put back all the vegetables and part of the broth in the pot.
cuisinart immersion blender

I used my new Cuisinart immerse blender to puree the vegetables.

I then added trahanas and the turkey meat which I cooked together.  In Cypriot trahanas we add halloumi which makes the soup even creamier.  This time I fried the halloumi which we added on top of the soup and to make it creamier I added Greek yoghurt mixed with mustard (as I did not add any lemon in the soup), making the soup even more delicious.

Turkey vegetable soup


Turkey  Vegetable Trahanas Soup with Fried Halloumi

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Serves: 6


  • 1 turkey carcass
  • 1 onion quartered
  • 1/2 cup green onion, finely chopped
  • 3 medium potatoes, quartered
  • 4 carrots, halved
  • 1 cup celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 cup silver beet, finely chopped
  • 1 ripe tomato, peeled and quartered
  • 1 cup various bell peppers, red, orange, green
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • ½ tsp black peppercorns
  • 3 all spice berries
  • 2 bay leafs
  • 1 cup, turkey meat, bite-sized pieces
  • 1 ½ litres turkey broth
  • 3 pieces Cypriot trahanas (about 1 cup)
  • 1 slice halloumi for each portion
  • 100 ml Greek yoghurt mixed with 1 tsp mustard


  1. Put the carcass, vegetables, spices and lots of water to cover the vegetables.
  2. Cook until the vegetables are soft.
  3. Strain the vegetables, discard the bay leafs and remove the bones.  Put the vegetables back in the pot with as much broth as you need to make soup (I used half of the broth).  Using the immerse blender puree the vegetables.
  4. Put the soup back on the heat and when it boils add the trahanas.  Simmer for 15 – 20 minutes, mixing regularly.
  5. Meantime, remove any meat from the bones and add back to the soup.
  6. In a non-stick frying pan add 1 tbsp olive oil and fry the halloumi on both sides.
  7. Mix yoghurt with mustard.
  8. Serve soup with 1 tbsp yoghurt and a slice of halloumi.  It is preferable to cut the halloumi in small pieces and add it to the soup.  (In the photo I kept it whole as it would disappear in the soup if I had cut it).
  9. If you like you can grate some black pepper on top.

Turkey trahanas soup2
Other recipes to make with leftover turkey:

Turkey Pie Roulade

Cottage Pie

Turkey & Leek Pie (substitute chicken with turkey)

Turkey Fajitas (substitute chicken with turkey breasts)

Kotopita (substitue chicken with turkey breasts)

Leftover Stuffing

Turkey or Pork Roulade

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi!!

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5 Responses

  1. A wonderful dinner and a delightful leftover soup!



  2. OMG, you deep fry your tyropita?!?! oh my, I think I'm in love!!!!! My cousin's mother-in-law uses flour tortilla instead of filo dough, which is an interesting twist too, but WOW deep frying them? I need to come over for deep fried tyropita!!!!!

    Xronia Polla! It looks like you have a very delicious Christmas feast!
    My recent post New Years Resolutions

  3. Beautiful soup, especially now that they say the weather is getting colder. Very tasy table you prepared Ivy mou kai tou xronou!
    My recent post Melomakarona Part 2

  4. Quite a feast for your Christmas dinner! Everything looks wonderful! And I love the idea of the soup with turkey leftovers, sounds yummy for sure!

  5. MaryMoh

    That's a lot of good food there. I have always been frightened by a huge turkey…haha. Just don't know what to do with it. yet this year I bought the first huge turkey because it was on a huge discount. That was impulsive irresistible buying! Regretted after that when I got home…haha. I cut it up at the joints, added some seasoning and roast it to make turkey rice porridge…delicious! Wishing you a great 2011!
    My recent post Very Special Christmas 2010