How To Make the Alton Brown Turkey Soup Recipe at Home

Alton Brown is one of the most recognized and popular food television stars on the air today. Graduating from the prestigious New England Culinary Institute in 1997 after a career as a cinematographer and director in Los Angeles, Brown moved back to his childhood hometown of Atlanta, GA and used his culinary and media education to start the popular TV series Good Eats (1999-2012, revival 2019-2021).

Brown’s style of hosting combines solid basic cookery, stylish set design, science, and sketch comedy to bring smart cooking and basic recipes to a basic home cook audience. With a cast of memorable characters including Alton’s popular equipment guru W (local actress/chiropractor Vickie Eng) and nutritional anthropologist Deborah Duchon (1949-2019), Brown educated viewers on the finer arts and sciences of cooking for a decade and a half between the two periods of his show.

One of Brown’s commonly revisited themes was turkey, especially in the context of Thanksgiving and Christmas leftovers. Turkey is a meat that freezes beautifully; frozen turkey can last up to 4 months in the freezer before losing flavor. This recipe first appeared in Season 3 of Good Eats and has been revised since then.

Alton recommends not completely cleaning the carcass, as the scraps of meat on the bones will improve the depth of flavor of the broth. This Alton Brown turkey soup recipe modifies Alton’s procedure a bit. It adds separate vegetables instead of an all-in-one vegetable medley to give the cook maximum freedom to choose their flavors. Feel free to modify the vegetable mix to suit your preferences.


  • Serves 6 as an entrée or 12 as an appetizer
  • 1 tablespoon Canola oil for browning aromatics
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 3-4 carrots, diced
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 2 quarts vegetable stock or broth
  • 1 turkey carcass
  • 2 cups turkey meat, cubed
  • 1/2 cup long-grain white rice, uncooked
  • 1/4 cup each of corn, peas, diced carrots, regular-cut green beans, lima beans. Substitute any preferred frozen vegetables for each.
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Enameled Dutch oven


  1. In the dutch oven, add oil and heat to shimmering.
  2. Add onion and garlic and stir until soft and aromatic, approximately 30-60 seconds
  3. Add carrot and celery, stir until the aromatics begin to just soften.
  4. Add the turkey carcass and vegetable broth, plus water to cover the carcass, and bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 1 hour, checking periodically and replacing water if the bones are starting to show over the water level.
  6. Once the hour is up, remove the carcass.
  7. Add turkey meat, vegetables, rice, thyme, and Old Bay seasoning and simmer for another 20 to 30 minutes.
  8. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot.

When finished, this soup should feature a silky, vegetable-inflected but deeply turkey-flavored broth, pieces of very flaky turkey meat, tender yet firm rice and perfectly simmered vegetables. This turkey soup is a beautiful centerpiece to any post-holiday meal or office get-together.

It doubles as an appetizer beautifully as well and can refrigerate for up to a week or freeze for up to three months. If you decide to go the freezer route, remember to take it out the day before you want to use it and thaw it overnight in the refrigerator, reheating gently on the stove in about 15 minutes.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I change up this recipe?

This soup procedure works wonderfully with any leftover poultry: Turkey and chicken are only the most obvious ones. Anything else you have, including game such as pheasant, would work perfectly with this beautiful and simple soup preparation. If you are using wild-caught game, be careful as you eat, as wild-caught game will often have undiscovered shotgun pellets still in the meat.

This soup will work beautifully with alternate vegetables and seasonings: Cajun hot seasoning such as Tony Chachere’s or Slap Ya Mama will add a spicy dimension to a traditional dish.

Substituting alternate vegetables is encouraged in this dish; substitutions should be done on a one-for-one basis – if one vegetable is added, another should be considered for removal to avoid overcrowding the pot.

This basic soup procedure can also be made as a vegetarian soup, without the turkey. In this case, simply substitute an equal amount of aromatics for the turkey carcass in the fourth step and add more vegetables in step 7.

What Else Has Alton Brown Done?

Besides his legendary culinary education TV program Good Eats, Alton Brown has been a regular host and guest on multiple Food Network TV programs. He appeared regularly on Food Network StarIron Chef America and its spinoffs, and Cutthroat Kitchen, the latter two were developed with his input and the third was hosted entirely by Brown.

Iron Chef is a long-running TV franchise beginning with a Fuji TV cooking competition show in Japan, where chefs would compete against a stable of in-house chefs in competitions involving a secret theme ingredient. The franchise jumped to North America starting in 2001 and has recently jumped to streaming platform Netflix.

Cutthroat Kitchen is a long-running TV franchise that was developed by Alton Brown wherein contestants engaged in cooking battles similar to those seen in long-running series Chopped, with a twist that the chefs are permitted to engage in bidding wars for “sabotages,” equipment and ingredients that are worse than what they had to begin with. This series ran from 2013 to 2017 on Food Network.

Since June 2022, Alton Brown can be seen with longtime host/collaborator Mark Dacascos on their Netflix series Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend on Netflix. It is the first time since the 2001 UPN special Iron Chef USA that a show under the Iron Chef franchise has been seen in North America on a service other than Food Network.

Alton Brown does not consider or call himself a chef, arguing that a chef is made either by running and operating a restaurant or by acclamation. By the latter definition, arguably, Brown can be considered a chef as many people consider him to be one.

What should this be served with?

The best sides to go with a soup like this are breads and crudites or vegetables. Make sure they have been blanched and roasted. A meat-heavy soup like this probably does not necessitate any sort of meaty dish. However, it may certainly come before a meal involving poultry, either the same, or a different poultry. Turkey soup pairs wonderfully with white wine or sparkling waters of any sort.

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