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A bowl of lemon turkey and orzo soup, with a sprig of thyme, and a lemon and shredded turkey in the background

Instant Pot Day-After-Thanksgiving Lemon Turkey and Orzo Soup

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5 from 2 reviews

  • Author: Mike Vrobel
  • Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings of soup 1x


Turkey broth (pressure cooked from the carcass of a Thanksgiving turkey) is the backbone of this soup with tiny orzo pasta



Turkey Carcass Broth (Makes about 4 quarts of broth)

  • Carcass from 1 roasted turkey, with clinging meat on bones (From a 12- to 14- pound turkey)
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and halved
  • 1 stalk celery, broken into pieces
  • 1 carrot, scrubbed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 quarts of water (or to cover, or to the max fill line of the PC)

Lemon Turkey Soup with Orzo

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 rib of celery, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 8 cups turkey broth (from above)
  • 2 cups shredded leftover turkey (optional)
  • 1 cup dried orzo pasta
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • Juice from ½ a lemon
  • More red pepper flakes for serving
  • More lemon wedges for serving


  1. Pressure cook the broth for 60 minutes with a Natural Release: Break up the turkey carcass so it fits below the max fill line on your Instant Pot or other pressure cooker (⅔ of the way up the pot.) Add the onion, celery, carrot, bay leaves, and salt to the pressure cooker pot, then add water to cover by 1 inch, or to the max fill line on the pressure cooker. (About 3 quarts of water) Pressure cook for 60 minutes in an electric PC, 50 minutes in a stovetop PC. Let the pressure come down naturally – about 30 minutes. (It takes a long time for all that water to cool off. If you’re in a hurry, let the pressure come down for at least 20 minutes, then quick release any remaining pressure.) Scoop the bones and vegetables out of the pot with a slotted spoon and discard. Strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer and discard the solids. Reserve 8 cups of broth for the soup, and refrigerate or freeze the rest for another use.
  2. Sauté the aromatics: Wipe out the pot. Pour the olive oil into the pot, and heat over Sauté mode adjusted to high (medium-high heat in a stovetop PC) until the oil starts to shimmer. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic, and sprinkle with the thyme leaves, ½ teaspoon of salt, and red pepper flakes. Sauté until the onions soften, about 5 minutes.
  3. Simmer the broth, turkey, and pasta: Add the 8 cups of turkey broth to the pot, cover (but don’t lock the pressure lid - if you have a non-pressure lid, this is the time to use it), and bring to a boil. (Use saute mode in an Instant Pot). Stir in the shredded turkey, the orzo, and 1 teaspoon fine sea salt. Bring to a simmer and cook for 8 minutes.
  4. Serve: Remove the soup from the heat and stir in the ½ teaspoon of black pepper and the lemon juice. Serve, passing the red pepper flakes and lemon wedges at the table for people to add into the soup if they like. Enjoy!


Make the broth ahead: After step 1, the broth can be refrigerated for a couple of days, or frozen for up to 3 months. When you’re ready, continue with step 2, sautéing the aromatics.

Extra broth: A turkey carcass will make a double batch of broth. I freeze the extra broth in 2-cup containers.

8-Quart Instant Pot: Add 4 quarts of water (or to the max fill line), and maybe throw in a couple of extra onions. You’ll have even more extra broth to freeze for later.


6 quart or larger pressure cooker - preferably 8 quart or larger (I love my Instant Pot electric pressure cooker)

Fine mesh strainer

Flat edged wooden spoon

  • Prep Time: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: Sunday Dinner
  • Method: Pressure Cooker
  • Cuisine: American