Turkey barley soup

There are so many ways to use leftovers but having eaten so much on Christmas Day the pleasure of having a large bowl of hot soup is soothing. Even more comforting is using up lots of those Christmas leftovers. Even if you do not intend to make soup, make the stock and freeze it for later use. It will keep in the freezer for up to a year. Leave the onion skins on to add colour to the stock.

Follow the instructions if you are making this recipe fresh but if you are using leftovers add any root vegetables, pureed or not, towards the end. Add mushrooms if you have them and there is nothing amiss about using cauliflower or broccoli either. In other words, just add all your leftover vegetables, up to about 4 or 5 cups worth. The only thing I do not like to use are leftover potatoes because they can be used for potato pancakes and when roasted they make good hash browns.

If you don’t like barley boil noodles separately and add them to the soup when serving. Barley will cause the soup to thicken as it stands. If made the day before, it may need to be thinned when reheated.

Servings: 4
Ready time: 3 ½ hours, including time to make stock



  • 1 turkey carcass
  • 1 onion, unpeeled, quartered
  • 2 carrots, unpeeled, cut in 2-inch chunks
  • 2 stalks celery, cut in 2-inch chunks


  • 1/2 cup pearl barley                                                  
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup diced peeled carrots                                                                
  • 1 cup diced peeled rutabaga  
  • 1 cup diced peeled sweet potato or squash
  • 1 cup sliced Brussels sprouts                                                
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley                        


Break up turkey carcass to fit large pot. Add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Add onion, carrots and celery and bring to boil over high heat. Skim any scum that rises to top. Turn heat to low and simmer for 2 hours. 

Strain soup into another pot, reserving carcass but discarding vegetables. There should be about 6 cups stock. Pick any meat off carcass and reserve.

Bring stock to simmer, sprinkle in barley and cover. Simmer for 20 minutes or until barley is al dente. Add onions, carrots, rutabaga, sweet potato and Brussels sprouts and simmer covered for a further 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add leftover turkey to soup if desired. Season well with salt and pepper and garnish with parsley.