Wondering what to do with those Northern Michigan Thanksgiving leftovers? Grab what’s left of that turkey along with some local mushrooms and curl up with a bowl of this simple, yet delicious soup while you reflect on a holiday well spent with close family and friends.
Mushroom and turkey soup with Michigan mushrooms

Photo by Dave Weidner

When I was growing up, our Thanksgiving menu was the same every year: the largest roasted turkey we could find, oyster dressing, mashed potatoes and a cranberry Jell-O salad. The turkey soup my parents would make the next day was also an annual tradition. Following the main meal, my dad would carve the leftover meat from the turkey, saving the white meat for sandwiches and turning the dark meat and bones over to my mom. While watching local Detroit news on the tiny countertop TV that sat next to her electric stove, she would simmer the bones to make stock. Eventually, she would add carrots, celery, rice and turkey meat. For days, turkey soup was lunch.

Related Read: Searching for more monthly and seasonal recipes? View our On The Table page.

Conceptually, I always loved the idea of using the whole animal and making good use of every last bit of leftover meat, but I was never a huge fan of the soup itself. I think maybe the flavor profile was just too similar to that of Thanksgiving dinner, and by days four or five I’d had enough.
Today, in my Leelanau County kitchen, I now carry on the family tradition of soup in an updated way. Inspired by an autumn trip to Norway a few years back, where I stumbled upon a recipe for pheasant and mushroom soup, I combine homemade turkey stock and leftover dark meat with Michigan mushrooms. If you can, seek out a mixture of the shiitake mushrooms being grown at Interlochen’s Midnight Harvest, the blue oyster mushrooms coming from North Country Farm, 231.477.5962, in Brethren or even wild lobster or black trumpet mushrooms foraged by Great Lakes Treats. Can’t fathom the chaos of one more specialty market this month? No problem. Cremini or even button mushrooms from the supermarket work, too. Whatever the variety, just be sure to add mushrooms to that final Wednesday-before-Thanksgiving grocery list and you’ll be all set on Friday or Saturday when it’s time to put some soup on.

Related Read: October’s On the Table: One-Pot Bison & Wild Rice Stuffed Squash.

Creamy Mushroom and Turkey Soup Recipe

Serves 8

  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
  • 1 pound sliced mushrooms—preferably a mixture of shiitake, oyster, trumpet or other fresh mushrooms
  • 5 cups turkey or chicken stock
  • 2 cups shredded dark turkey meat, broken into spoon-sized pieces
  • 1⁄4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1⁄2 cup heavy cream
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Mushroom and turkey soup

Photo by Dave Weidner

1. To a thick-bottomed stockpot over medium heat, add olive oil and onion and sauté until onion is soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute until the garlic is fragrant. Fold in the sliced mushrooms and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring infrequently so that the mushrooms sit in one place until they begin to brown and caramelize before being moved. Once they are cooked, remove several spoonfuls of mushrooms from the pot and set aside, reserving them as a garnish.

2. Add 2 cups of stock to the pot, scrape up any bits and reduce heat to low. Using a hand blender—or working in batches with a countertop blender—purée the mixture until smooth. Add the remaining 3 cups of stock, cover and let cook for another 10 minutes until the flavors meld together.

3. Fold in the shredded turkey meat and parsley and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low, pour in the heavy cream, add salt and pepper to taste and serve garnishing each bowl with a few of the reserved mushrooms.

Related Read: On the hunt for holiday recipes, local restaurants and more? Visit our Northern Michigan Food & Drink page.

Stacey Brugeman is a Leelanau County-based food and beverage writer and editor. Her work has appeared in Food & Wine, Saveur, Travel + Leisure, Eater and Denver’s 5280, where she served as Restaurant Critic. Follow her on Instagram @staceybrugeman.

Photo(s) by Dave Weidner