So the big day is over, the turkey had it’s moment of glory….and now you’re left with the leftovers. Well, I don’t know what I need to say to convince you that you need to make this, but this turkey and sage buttermilk dumpling soup is literally one of my favorite things I’ve ever made. Ever. No exaggeration what so ever. It’s comforting, cozy, like gravy, stew, and gnocchi had a baby. Fluffy sage buttermilk dumplings in an enriched stock that tastes homemade (but cheats and only take 30 minutes & involves no messy bones!) with fall-apart tender pieces of leftover turkey (so much better than the dried out meat on a sandwich!) It’s addictively comforting. Of all the things I’ve cooked in my lifetime, this is one I know I will make again and again. And once my kitchen is clean from the Thanksgiving chaos (good lord, such chaos), I’m going to make it again today. It is that good.
It sounds simple, but this is the stuff comfort food dreams are made of. This is going back in time to your grandmother’s house. People just don’t make food like this anymore, and it’s a shame. I’m all for adaptogens and flowers in your food and Japanese ingredients. But sometimes you can’t mess with perfection. I’m on a reeeeal Grandma kick lately. See: Apple Pie, Mac & Cheese…ya get the picture. So, I hope with this recipe, I can keep tradition alive and bring another heirloom recipe from my kitchen to yours.
First I take low sodium store-bought chicken or veggie stock and enrich it with aromatics, herbs, and mirepoix (that would be carrots, celery, and onions y’all). While that’s bubbling I soften onions and garlic in a bath of butter, add celery and carrot, and cook until they’re soft, making sure to season along the way with salt and pepper. Nothing fancy. Then goes in a generous amount of fresh sage, the up-leveled broth, and shredded leftover turkey or chicken (our turkey was smoked and I gotta say that was next level). Then you thicken it with a slurry of flour and water and a pat of butter, bubble away for a few minutes to meld the flavors and thicken the broth, season to taste, and drop in the most delectable buttermilk sage dumplings. Good buttermilk is clutch here, and I love Cruze Farms if you can find it. But just look for whatever is local to you. Cover and cook 15-20 minutes and then ladle the edible equivalent of a warm hug into bowls. If you’re feeling super extra and have leftover turkey skin, fry it up crispy in a skillet, sprinkle it with salt, and serve it on the side. I mean. I die. I. just. die. I’m southern, what can I say.
I know the ingredients are simple. There is nothing you won’t find at any grocery store in it. It’s quick. It’s easy. It’s heaven. I am literally having to restrain myself from flat out begging you to try it. Just try it. She’s not really a looker, brown gravy broth and fluffy white dumplings isn’t exactly the prettiest of pictures, but I promise it is time travel in a bowl. It tastes like Grandmother’s kitchen use to smell.
So please! Do yourself a favor and skip the sandwich and make this with your Thanksgiving leftovers or any turkey or chicken you have laying around.
And if you want to make it vegetarian, just bump up the amount of veggies, omit the meat, and use veggie stock instead. Which is what I plan to do when we run out of leftovers. Because the mere fact that we’re not a big meat-eating household will not stop me from eating a veggie version of this on repeat all winter. I think making this vegan and having the *same* experience would be hard as the butter and buttermilk are so crucial BUT you could absolutely use a plant-based milk with some lemon juice and vegan butter instead. It can be done! So, basically, this entire blog post is me on my knees with a virtual bowl of turkey sage dumpling soup begging you to make it at home. I promise you’ll save it forever if you try it once. Unless you hate delicious stuff. In which case, you know, carry on. I’m going to try a vegetarian and vegan version over the winter and will let you know how those go but for now…here’s the real deal with as-of-yet untested but logical adaptation notes if you are vegan or vegetarian!
- 2 boxes low sodium chicken broth can sub veggie broth
- 1 large carrot roughly chopped
- ½ small sweet yellow onion roughly chopped
- 2 ribs of celery celery roughly chopped
- 5 sprigs parsley Parsley
- 1 sprig sage sage
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 3-5 sprigs thyme
- 3 cloves garlic lightly crushed
- A few cracks of fresh Black pepper
- 1 bay leaf if ya got it optional
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 ½ cups 190 g Flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 ¼ tsp Salt
- ¼ tsp freshly cracked black Pepper
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh sage
- 3 tablespoons cold unsalted Butter or vegan butter, diced
- 1 cup buttermilk sub whole or non-dairy milk with 1 tablespoon lemon
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 clove garlic
- ½ sweet yellow onion finely chopped
- 2 large or 3 medium carrots cut into ¼” half moons
- 3 ribs celery sliced about ½” thick
- 2 cups shredded leftover turkey omit and add extra carrot and celery if veggie
- 1 tablespoon fresh sage minced
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ tsp fresh pepper plus more to taste
- 1 teaspoon salt
- chopped fresh parsley optional for garnish
- celery leaf optional for garnish
- fried turkey skin optional for garnish
- Simmer all the broth ingredients together for at least 30 min and up to an hour. Strain and set aside.
- Meanwihle, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, and sage in a mixing bowl. Cut diced butter into the mixture with your fingers or a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles course meal. Gently fold in the buttermilk until just combined taking care to not over mix lest your dumplings be tough. Set aside.
- After straining the stock and making your dumpling dough, make the soup. Melt the two tablespoons of butter in a heavy bottom pot and cook the garlic and onion over low heat until fragrant and transluscent, and the onion releases it’s juices about 5-7 minutes, being careful not to brown it. Add the carrot and celery and cook for 10 minutes on medium heat until they start to soften. Pour the broth over the veggies and simmer until the veggies are tender.
- Add the shredded turkey and simmer for a minute or two with the additional 1 tablespoon of butter added, stirring to incorporate. While it simmers, mix the two tablespoons of flour with 1/4 cup of water to form a slurry, and stir that into the stew. Cook 10-15 minutes to thicken and cook out the raw flower.
- Add the dumplings, a scant tablespoon of dough at time to the soup until the surface is dotted with dumplings, and simmer covered for 10-20 minutes until they are cooked through. They should be soft inside, not wet or gooey. If they aren’t cooked through, cook 2-3 minutes more until done. Serve into bowls and garnish with parsley and celery leaf and fried turkey skin if you have it. I always like an extra crack of pepper on mine!
My name is Beth, Elizabeth Evelyn to be exact. A native Tennessean, I was born in the South.
I am the author behind Local Milk Blog.
Local milk is a journal devoted to home cookery, travel, family, and slow living—to being present & finding sustenance of every kind.
It’s about nesting abroad & finding the exotic in the everyday.
Most of all it’s about the perfection of imperfections and seeing the beauty of everyday, mundane life.