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  • Writer's pictureJamie McDermott

Lemony Pesto Turkey Soup

I don't know about you, but by the time Thanksgiving is over, I am pretty tired of the "traditional" veggies used when cooking a turkey - carrots, onion, and celery. Not that there's anything wrong with them, but they can just be kind of "meh," do you know what I mean? So when it came time to make our turkey soup last week, I wanted to create something fresh and new. We were also wanting something light, after a day of indulgence (totally worth it though!).

Whenever I have this feeling, I always reach for greens. Spinach, kale, collards, or even turnip or mustard greens, you name the green and my hand is up! There's just something restorative about knowing that you are putting such beneficial foods into your body.

I had some jarred pesto in the fridge, and along with the Meyer lemons gifted to me by my amazing neighbor Sharon, I knew what direction this soup was going! I added quinoa instead of rice or noodles, which offers much more in terms of protein and fiber. Paired with lots of onion and garlic, the result is a classic, fresh twist on the traditional turkey soup. This could also be amazing with a rotisserie chicken instead of the turkey!

We love to top our soup with "things" for added taste and texture. It makes it fun for the kids (well, my one soup eating child at least - the other won't eat foods all mixed together. That's another post worth discussing!). :) For this recipe, I put out shredded mozzarella, chopped avocado, fresh basil and parmesan crisps. Mmmm!

I hope you get a chance to enjoy this recipe as much as we did! It will definitely reappear on our table later on this winter! Cheers to this magical holiday season so far, my friends! I"ll be back soon with my healthy version of the traditional Chex Party Mix next week!



1 whole turkey carcass with extra meat OR 1 whole pre-cooked rotisserie chicken

8 cups water

1 large onion, chopped 

1 cup uncooked quinoa 

1 bag 13.25oz  spinach with power greens (can sub 2 small bags baby spinach or 6 cups chopped kale, or any other greens) 

3-4 Tbsp prepared pesto (depending on preference)

Juice of 1 fresh lemon 

1 bunch chopped basil, Thai basil, or parsley 

Sea salt and black pepper 

Garnishes: Grated mozzarella, parmesan cheese, Parm crisps, light sour cream, chopped avocado, fresh basil 


1. Combine turkey carcass or rotisserie chicken with water in a large stockpot. Cook on low for 1-2 hours or until meat easily falls off the bone.  

2. Remove turkey or chicken and remove meat from the carcass.  DIscard, and combine meat with the stock.  

3. Add quinoa, chopped onions, greens, pesto, fresh herbs, and salt and pepper to taste.

4. Simmer for another 1-2 hours to meld seasonings, or cook on low in a crock pot until serving time.    

5. Serve alone or with suggested garnishes. Enjoy!

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