Turkey Sweet Potato Soup

Talk about a bowlful of fall color! This healthy, colorful soup is one of my oldest recipes, often made with leftover Thanksgiving turkey but also with the last of a rotisserie chicken, some leftover roasted chicken or, wow, chunks of smoked chicken. And it's extra easy to make, there's no need to even sauté the onion and celery before adding the rest of the ingredients. Just chop 'em up and cook 'em! The results? A very tasty, satisfying soup, a great way to return to "normal eating" after an indulgent holiday.

Turkey Sweet Potato Soup ♥ KitchenParade.com, a healthy colorful soup made with sweet potatoes and leftover turkey.

Real Food, Fast from Scratch. Another Quick Supper, a Kitchen Parade Specialty. Hearty & Filling. Budget Friendly. Weeknight Easy, Weekend Special. Low Fat. High Protein. Weight Watchers Friendly.

  • "Been making this for years. Yum ..." ~ Alyson
  • "Very good! We really enjoyed this soup." ~Pat

Glory, Glory. Autumn Is Upon Us.

The air is crisp, the sky that shade-deeper autumn blue. The leaves are at their peak, dressed in their fall finery of russet and gold. The leaf tourists are about too, clogging the country roads and stopping for pie and coffee and a small-town welcome along the way.

Here, the mums planted last year are in full flower. I think of their hues as "roasted pumpkin" and "pale eggplant" and "fried-egg yellow". Even in the garden, I’m thinking about the next meal!

My sister made this colorful soup when the family gathered before Christmas last year. The original recipe called for more bacon and 2% milk. It was delicious! I adapted the recipe to lower the calorie count, to no detriment I believe.

What's In Turkey Sweet Potato Soup? Pantry Ingredients!

In all my recipes and most well-written recipes, every ingredient serves a purpose. Each one matters. Each one contributes to the overall dish. It's not that an ingredient can't be substituted by something else but when choosing the substitute, it's important to understand why the original ingredient was present in the first place.

  • Cooked Turkey for Bulk and Protein This recipe is extra popular after Thanksgiving, because it's such a good way to use up leftover turkey. But fear not. Maybe you cooked a turkey breast in the slow cooker. Or maybe you picked up a rotisserie chicken after work yesterday and want to use what's left of the meat tonight. Great ideas, go for it.

  • Liquids for Richness and Flavor A lot of flavor and richness comes from the turkey stock. But truly. Do not despair, or move on, if you don't have turkey stock. Really. This is weeknight food, simple fare. Use what you have. If it's homemade stock, either turkey or chicken, great. But after that, go for a can or carton of turkey or chicken broth, even a paste like Better Than Bouillon or even a cube of dried chicken or turkey stock. Could you even substitute more milk? Sure. Or even water? Sure. With milk or water, you might need to add more seasoning. And here's an idea: unless you intend to make stock with the carcass of the rotisserie chicken (as I do to make No-Big-Deal Homemade Chicken Stock), just throw that carcass into the pot with the vegetables and liquid and then pull it out before serving. It'll be awesome ...

  • Colorful Vegetables Sweet potato plays the starring role in this soup but the celery, onion and garlic really do add both flavor and bulk. Could you substitute cubes of butternut squash for the sweet potato? Sure! Or carrot? Sure! Frozen peas are added near the end for a burst of color and texture contrast. This is a common practice in lots of recipes, it pays to keep a bag of frozen peas on hand for just this purpose.

  • Milk Use the milk you have on hand, it's likely the one whose flavor you prefer. Time was, for me, that meant skim milk. Nowadays, that means whole milk. Would a can of evaporated milk work? Sure. Would half & half work? You bet. Would a non-dairy milk work? I think so, so long as it's unsweetened.

  • Bacon Oh, bacon, how we do love thee. But here? Totally optional, that is, unless your kids will gobble up sweet potatoes so long as bacon is in the mix.

  • A Thickener For thickening, the soup calls for what in culinary terms is called a "slurry" – that's a mixture of a thickener (like cornstarch or flour or arrowroot or even ground cooked rice or cooked cauliflower or or ...) and water. Cornstarch is handy because it's shelf-stable and whisks in without lumps more easily and cooks more clearly.

  • Dried Herbs for Seasoning The recipe calls for marjoram, thyme and a sprinkle of cayenne for a little heat. These do add to the soup but aren't essential. Again, use what you have, maybe dried basil? or Italian seasoning? or a splash of hot sauce for that heat? Add salt and pepper near the end, to taste, after all the other ingredients have come together and the soup is at serving temperature.

  • That's it! Simple, eh?!

How to Make Turkey Sweet Potato Soup

The detailed recipe is written in traditional recipe form below but here are the highlights in four easy steps. You can do this!

This soup employs an unusual cooking technique. Usually, we start a soup by sautéeing some vegetables, often onion and celery. Here, however, the chopped vegetables go straight into the cooking liquid to cook right there. Unexpected? You bet! Does it work? It does! And it definitely moves things along ...

  • Heat the Stock and Cook the Vegetables. Get the stock starting to heat up on the stove and add the vegetables (everything except the peas) as soon as they're prepped. Do stick to the order of sweet potato, celery, onion and garlic, which gives the sweet potatoes the needed few extra minutes to cook. Once the liquid comes to a boil, reduce the heat and let it all simmer until the sweet potatoes are soft and fully cooked.
  • Heat Through the Cooked Ingredients, the Turkey and Bacon That happens right in the same pot. It won't take long since the liquid is hot and the turkey and bacon are already cooked.
  • Thicken the Soup Use a mixture of cornstarch and milk to thicken the soup.
  • Finish the Soup Dinner's almost ready! Taste the liquid, add salt and pepper to taste. Then toss in the frozen peas and let them cook briefly, just enough to thaw and cook a little.

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How do you save and share favorite recipes? recipes that fit your personal cooking style? a particular recipe your mom or daughter or best friend would just love? If this recipe for Turkey Sweet Potato Soup hits the mark, go ahead, save and share! I'd be honored ...

Turkey Sweet Potato Soup ♥ KitchenParade.com, one of my oldest recipes, a healthy colorful soup made with sweet potatoes and leftover turkey.


Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 40 minutes
Makes 9 cups
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups Turkey Stock or Homemade Chicken Stock or 15-ounces canned chicken broth
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes (about 2-1/2 cups)
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • Pinch cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
  • 2 cups chopped cooked turkey (leftover or pre-cooked)
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked, crumbled (optional but delicious, see How to Bake Bacon in the Oven)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup skim milk (or any other milk)
  • 1-3/4 cups additional skim milk (or any other milk)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 cup frozen peas (no need to thaw)

COOK LIQUIDS & VEGETABLES Combine the water and stock in a large pot on the stove, set the heat to medium high. Add the sweet potatoes, celery, onion and garlic as they're prepped. Stir in the marjoram, thyme and cayenne pepper. Let the liquid come to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and let simmer until the sweet potatoes are fully cooked, about 15 minutes.

COOKED INGREDIENTS Stir in the turkey and cooked bacon, let warm through.

THICKEN THE SOUP In a measuring cup with a spout, use a fork or whisk to stir the cornstarch and 1/4 cup milk together until fully combined, then stir in the remaining milk. Slowly pour the cornstarch-milk mixture into the soup, stirring it into the pot as it's poured with a wooden spoon or spatula. Increase the heat a bit, and cook the soup until the liquid becomes thick and bubbly, about 5 minutes.

FINISH Taste the soup, especially the liquid, and then season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the peas and let cook for one minute or until the peas are thawed and cooked. Serve and enjoy!

ALANNA's TIPS A cool thing about this soup is that the vegetables need not be sautéed beforehand but cook right in the broth. Such easy prep, right? The soup can slowly simmer atop the stove for a long time; if so, add the peas just before serving to keep their bright green color. Watch the cayenne pepper. The original recipe’s quarter teaspoon was too much but you may want more than the small amount specified here. Leftover turkey is moister and more flavorful but in a pinch, use precooked turkey from the deli, say. It's also great with smoked turkey, which is often quite inexpensive. I also use leftover rotisserie chicken, leftover roasted chicken, even leftover smoked chicken.
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Cup: 157 Calories; 3g Tot Fat; 1g Sat Fat; 28mg Cholesterol; 50mg Sodium; 16g Carb; 2g Fiber; 6g Sugar; 15g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 3 & PointsPlus 4 & SmartPoints 4 & Freestyle 3 & myWW green 4 & blue 3 & purple 2

Lots of Leftover Turkey? More Soup Ideas!

~ cooked turkey recipes ~
Chicken & Wild Rice Soup (Turkey & Wild Rice Soup) ♥ KitchenParade.com, hearty soup with wild rice and butternut squash.

Turkey Orzo Soup with Lemon & Spinach ♥ KitchenParade.com, a hearty mix of cooked turkey, pasta and vegetables brightened with lemon, perfect for spring. Weight Watchers Friendly. High Protein.

Smoked Turkey Chowder ♥ KitchenParade.com, homemade chowder made with slow-cooked caramelized onions, mushrooms, potatoes, smoked turkey, milk.

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

~ sweet potato recipes ~
~ cooked turkey recipes ~
~ bacon recipes ~
~ pea recipes ~

~ All Recipes, By Ingredient ~
~ How to Save Money on Groceries ~

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, for more scratch cooking recipes using whole, healthful ingredients, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade
2003, 2008 (repub), 2014 (repub) & 2021

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Mmmm. Delicious for my turkey leftovers!

  2. Been making this for years. Yum

  3. Pat on Pinterest3/10/2021

    Very good! We really enjoyed this soup. I didn't have any bacon, it still had plenty of flavor.


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna