Chef Beth Might Have the Best Recipe for Thanksgiving Leftovers Yet

The Player’s Retreat chef Beth Littlejohn makes a Turkey Ramen Noodle Soup that has become a family tradition.
By Ayn-Monique Klahre

I love a turkey sandwich, and my own family tradition, turkey casserole, but leave it to a chef to take Thanksgiving leftovers and transform them into something you’d be happy to eat year-round. Beth Littlejohn of Raleigh stalwart The Player’s Retreat pulled together her recipe for leftover Thanksgiving turkey a little bit by accident. “My mom didn’t want the turkey carcass—she said it was too fatty—so I took it to make stock,” Littlejohn says. 

Photo by Felicia Perry Trujillo

Then she did what all home cooks do: Littlejohn went through her cabinet and fridge and found a bit of leftovers (sweet potatoes and green beans; mushrooms from the stuffing) and a few kitchen staples (ramen noodles—yes, the kind we all love—carrots) and mixed them with some chef smarts (frying up some of that turkey skin for a crispy topper) and emerged with a Turkey Ramen Noodle Soup that’s become a tradition in her home. “I came up with it four of five years ago, and I’ve done it ever since. Whenever I mention it, people are just like, mmm, ramen—it’s that good!” Here’s Chef Beth Littlejohn’s recipe for Leftover Turkey Ramen Noodle Soup.

Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Ramen Noodle Soup

Turkey Stock
1 turkey carcass
4 onions
4 carrots
4 stalks of celery
4 sprigs of thyme
Tsp of peppercorns

  1. Add all ingredients into a pot and cover with water . 
  2. Bring to a boil and simmer for 4 hours. 
  3. Strain and set aside. (great to freeze some if you don’t need it all for soup)

Soup ingredients

Skin from turkey for garnish
2 cups diced cooked turkey meat
1 C diced cooked sweet potatoes
1 C diced green beans
½ c diced onion
2 packs of ramen noodles (you DO NOT need the seasoning packet, just the noodles)

  1. Sauté onions, add stock and bring to a boil.  season with a little salt and cook noodles until just al dente. 
  2. Add Green beans, turkey, sweet potatoes sand stir to combine. 
  3. Season with soy, sriracha and top with crispy turkey skin. (you can really add anything you like in ramen to this, a poached egg, pork belly, green onions, cilantro, etc.) 

To crisp the turkey skins, place in a sauté pan with vegetable oil. Turn on to medium/high heat, once skin starts to sizzle turn temperature down to low and turn often. You may need to press with spatula to keep flat. Once fat it rendered and skin is crisp, set aside, crumble on top of ramen.