Budget Low Carb – Make Lucky Thanksgiving Day Turkey Leftovers




You have to admit, in general, leftovers get a bad rap. Ask the mister of the house if he’s pining for leftovers, and 9 times out of 10 he will look at you like you’re crazy and tell you to hush your mouth. And that goes double for Thanksgiving leftovers. After you’ve eaten the Thanksgiving Day meal for two or more meals, I’m sorry, but the last thing on your mind is a heapin’ plate o’ the bird. There’s a reason why every Mexican restaurant in the state of Texas is packed with standing room only, the Friday following Thanksgiving Day dinner. Not only does the family need a very stiff Margarita after enduring “family togetherness” for 36 hours or longer, but everyone needs a leftover turkey break and a salsa fix to boot.

Hearty Curry Turkey Soup is a low carb and delicious way to utilize the boring leftover Thanksgiving turkey.

However, we’re here to shake things up a bit! Thanks to the inspirational chefs who have come before, and thanks to my Smarty McSmartipants relatives, our family no longer endures the drudgery of Thanksgiving leftovers. In fact, half the stigma of leftovers of any kind, much less Thanksgiving leftovers, is in the spin, or the sellin’ and tellin’, of the tall tale – as we say in Texas.

Through the years, my family looks forward to the Thanksgiving leftovers. They ask, “Pssssst, Susie, are you makin’ the Kentucky Hot Brown sammys for Friday brunch?” They’ve also been known to request Hearty Curry Turkey Soup out of the blue over a game of hearts. (I swear, I cain’t make this stuff up.)

CarbSmart Magazine’s Budget Low Carb Cooking and I are pleased to bring you two recipes your family will happily devour, despite the dubious leftover turkey provenance. In fact, low carb Kentucky Hot Brown open-faced sandwiches, and Hearty Curry Turkey Soup with French Green Beans, taste so fantastic we’re going out on a limb and now call them Lucky Leftovers. They taste like first run vittles, and if you don’t tell, only your ice box will know for certain.

Low Carb Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwich makes your family thankful for Turkey Day leftovers. Lucky!

These two recipes utilize the whole bird! Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwiches handle the leftover sliced meat with great ease. It’s an elegant, very well-known, hoity-toity sandwich named oddly enough, Kentucky Hot Brown – adapted to low carb and completely guilt free.

Just don’t make the mistake of adding an “s” to the end of Brown, making Kentucky Hot Brown plural. That will be a dead giveaway you’re a Yankee. Just don’t do it. Call it like you see it: Kentucky Hot Brown, named after the sandwich created at the famed Brown Hotel in Louisville Kentucky. I warn you now, you will try to make it plural all day. You will be ridiculed and belittled forever into eternity should you succeed in your quest for the “s”.

The second recipe, Hearty Curry Turkey Soup with French Green Beans, comes down from my sissy Nanny, and is a family favorite from our brother-in-law’s people. I’ve never been much for prepared curry powder, because of the overuse of fenugreek in its formulation, and typically prefer to make my own private Fluffy Chix Cook curry powder. Prepared curry powder is actually a spice blend of a handful of spices, usually 4-6, and most go way over the top with fenugreek, a very dominant spice. But this soup tastes like it was made with curry powder in mind and actually benefits from the fenugreek. It might bring a tear of gratitude to your eye, it’s that delicious.

Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey gets a bad rap from too many uninventive leftovers.

Fluffy Chix Cook adapted Hearty Turkey Curry Soup with French Green Beans with Nanny’s help in order to produce a low carb soup entirely guilt free and pleasure centric. The high carbage version uses diced potatoes and is thick, and comforts as only potato soup can. The low carb Hearty Turkey Curry Soup 2.0 is no less comforting, and much more rewarding, because you can enjoy eating it, knowing it is bypassing your hips. Guiltlessly savor the rich and nourishing broth, chunks of turkey and deliciously tender potato-like veggies. Oh and for an extra spark or richness, use leftover smoked turkey and leftover smoked turkey carcass to make the stock. Oh my! Get out!

Make sure you check out the Base Recipes for Turkey Carcass Stock and Mornay Sauce linked to in the recipes below. They are well worth filing away in your recipe arsenal. In fact, the low carb Mornay Sauce recipe used in the low carb Kentucky Hot Brown recipe is so delicious; you will make it over and over, and find new uses for it daily.


Low Carb Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwich (Open Face)

Cost of full recipe: $7.37
Cost per serving: $1.85 each

Recipe By: Susie T. Gibbs
Serves: 4-6     Serving Size: 1-2 open face sandwich halves    Yield: 8 open face sandwich halves
Preparation Time: 10 Minutes
Broiling Time: 5 Minutes
Start to Finish Time: 15 Minutes

This is a delicious and comforting way to use up leftover Thanksgiving turkey! Those Kentuckian’s
‘shore’ got this one right!


  • Low Carb Kentucky Hot Brown – no “s” at the end of Brown, please!

    4 basic revolution rolls or low carb Southern biscuits

  • 4 tablespoons butter, unsalted
  • 1 pound turkey breast slices — or your favorite white or dark meat leftover turkey
  • 1 cup low carb Mornay Sauce (Recipe links to bases)
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • Kosher Salt and White Pepper
  • 8 teaspoons Parmesan cheese
  • 8 slices bacon


  1. Split Revolution Rolls with sharp knife and butter the cut sides. Place cut sides down onto a hot cast iron griddle or non-stick sauté pan set to medium heat. Toast cut sides of rolls lightly. Over-browning rolls brings out an eggy taste.
  2. Make Mornay Sauce recipe and use 1 cup of sauce for this recipe. Reserve remaining sauce for future recipes. Sauce may be refrigerated and re-warmed, but does not freeze well.
  3. Slice tomatoes thinly and grate Parmesan cheese.
  4. Place pan-toasted rolls onto a non-stick foil lined baking sheet, or into individual ceramic oven-safe dishes big enough to hold 2 halves per pan. Top each roll with turkey slices. Top with Mornay Sauce and 2 thin slices of tomato per half roll. Salt and pepper tomato slices. Top tomato slices with a teaspoon of grated parmesan per sandwich half.
  5. Place open-faced sandwich pan on the top rack of the oven set to broil. Broil 3-5 minutes or until sandwiches are warmed through,  and cheese sauce is bubbly and golden around the edges. Remove from oven. Plate and top with a slice of crumbled bacon for each side of the sandwich.
  6. Serve two open-faced sandwich halves per person.

Per 2 Open Face Sandwiches: 629 Calories; 46g Fat (65.8% calories from fat); 47g Protein; 6.5g Carbohydrate; .75g Dietary Fiber; 308mg Cholesterol; 2410mg Sodium; 5.75g net carbs

Serving Ideas : Serve with steamed or Roasted Broccoli, Ugly Green Beans or a simple side salad with House Vinaigrette. (Note: Roasted Broccoli or Ugly Green Beans are simply made by tossing fresh or frozen veg with olive oil, kosher salt, pepper a bit of granulated garlic and roasting on a baking sheet at 450° until browned on the edges and crispy-ish. Click on this Ugly Green Bean link to see a food porn photo of how they look and why they’re ugly!)



4 out of 4 FORKS

Oh holy cow! You gotta love cheese! And Gruyère or Emmenthaler used in the Mornay Sauce are princes among cheeses. This hot, bubbly, goldenly rich, open-faced sammy makes the most incredible use of Thanksgiving turkey leftovers in history. Ever. Thank you Chef Schmidt of the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, for ingeniously pioneering one of the most comforting foods on the planet. It makes me proud to call myself a DFSW (Delicate Flower of Southern Womanhood). You deserve an award, Chef Schmidt! And I deserve an award for adapting his recipe for low carb! *blush* (shux, just kiddin’)

The low carb Mornay Sauce is easy to make and can be prepared 2 or 3 days ahead. The basic revolution rolls can be made up to a week ahead, and pan-toast like a champ just before broiling. (Don’t toast the bread dry, without butter. Toasting dry rolls brings out an eggy taste. It’s best to use a pan with butter for toasting. YUM!) For a new twist, feel free to make my low carb Southern Biscuits and toast them as the platform for the Kentucky Hot Brown. The links are in the recipe.

With or without bacon, the Low Carb Hot Brown is delicious…but the bacon makes it authentic!

The Mornay Sauce was inspired by French Laundry’s Chef Thomas Keller, but features a low carb riff on a velouté (classic mother sauce), because as legend has it, the bechamel sauce used as the base for most modern Mornay sauces had not been invented at the time the first sauce Mornay was served to the duc de Mornay in 1820.

A velouté mother sauce is a white sauce made from cooking equal parts butter and flour to make a white roux then adding chicken stock to form a sauce. To convert this sauce to low carb, we ditched the flour and added a splash of wine and also a bit of cream cheese to add thickening power. Using the chicken stock further reduced the amount of carbs you might get if using 3 cups of cream for the sauce. If your low carb Mornay Sauce needs to be thicker, add a pinch or two of your favorite low carb thickener.

Easy peasy. Super cheap! Turkey is $0.59/lb for a whole bird. A 12lb whole bird yields about 5lbs of pure edible meat minus skin and bone, so turkey costs about $1.42/lb for the edible meat portion of a bird. Don’t forget that same 12lb bird you paid $7.78 for at the grocery will not only yield meat, it will also yield delicious turkey broth for cooking all kinds of yummy leftover turkey carcass soups! The broth is basically FREE, free – I tell ya!


Low Carb Hearty Turkey Curry Soup with French Green Beans

Cost of Full Recipe (8 servings): $14.19
Cost for 4 Servings: $7.12
Cost per serving: $1.78

Recipe By: Susie T. Gibbs
Serves: 4     Serving Size:  About 2 cups    Yield: 16 cups
Preparation Time: 15 Minutes
Simmering Time: 45 Minutes
Start to Finish Time: 45 Minutes – 1 Hour

This recipe is adapted from my sissy, Nannie’s, prized Turkey Curry Soup Recipe. Everyone loves it and it makes short work of Thanksgiving turkey leftovers.

Low Carb Hearty Turkey Curry Soup tastes so warm and comforting, you won’t believe it’s low carb made from leftover Thanksgiving turkey!


  • 2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
  • 1 cup onion — diced
  • 1 cup celery — diced
  • ¼ cup carrots — diced
  • 7 cups Turkey Carcass Stock (Recipe links to bases)
  • 2 cups turnips — 1/2″ cubes
  • 2 cups cauliflower — 1/2″ cubes
  • 16 ounces green beans, frozen, French Cut
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 cup cream, heavy, liquid (or 2 cups half n’ half)
  • 4 cups turkey — 1/2″ cubes
  • 1/8 cup Italian parsley — chopped


  1. In bowl of food processor fitted with the knife blade, chop onion, celery, and carrots finely. You may also cut by hand, to a fine dice.
  2. Melt butter in Dutch oven or large soup pot.
  3. Sweat vegetables in butter until tender. Add turkey carcass stock and cook about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, peel and dice turnips. Dice cauliflower florets and stalk (yes, use the cauliflower stalk – delicious) into 1/2″ cubes. Add turnips, cauliflower, and green beans to the soup. Add seasonings. Cover and simmer about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
  4. Add heavy cream and diced turkey. Simmer an additional 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  5. Add 1/8 cup of chopped parsley for color.

(Optional – If you prefer a thicker soup, you may thicken with your favorite gums, such as guar or xanthan, or chia seeds.)

Per Serving: 346 Calories; 23g Fat (60.0% calories from fat); 25g Protein; 10g Carbohydrate; 3.5g Dietary Fiber; 111mg Cholesterol; 1270mg Sodium; 6.5g Net Carbs

Serving Ideas: Serve with Parmesan Crusted Stuffed Revolution Rolls and a Green Salad with House Vinaigrette.



4 of 4 FORKS

This low carb turkey carcass soup tastes so great and is a cinch to make! It’s a terrific way to use up the entire turkey after Thanksgiving, by making a stock out of the turkey carcass and using up any leftover turkey pieces-parts like wings and legs!

Go easy on the curry powder and add it to your taste. Start with 1/2 teaspoon and add more curry powder in 1/4 teaspoon increments, letting the soup cook for a few minutes before the next curry addition. Some people add as much as 2 teaspoons to this soup. I am generally pleased with the effects from 1 teaspoon of curry.

Lucky Leftovers! Low Carb Turkey Soup tastes awesome.

Everybody loves this soup and it’s generally the first one eaten at parties and family gatherings. If you feel the consistency of the soup needs to be thicker, you may whisk in a pinch or two of your favorite thickener such as xanthan gum or glucomannan powder.

If you figure the cost of the turkey as being included in the Thanksgiving meal, the cost of the turkey and soup stock would be zero, making this soup an extremely cheap meal! In fact, it’s so hearty and cheap, I usually buy an extra turkey while they are on sale for $0.59/lb for a whole bird – just to make Hearty Curry Turkey Soup with French Green Beans for the winter freezer.

A 12lb whole bird yields about 5lbs of pure edible meat minus skins and bone, so the turkey costs about $1.42/lb for the edible meat from a bird, but don’t forget that same 12lb bird that you paid $7.78 for at the grocery will not only yield meat, it will yield delicious turkey broth for cooking all kinds of delicious leftover turkey carcass soup! And the cost of that broth is exactly $0.00! Sweet!


(**Just an updated happy serendipity note on the price of turkey in 2012: I managed to score 1 totally FREE 12 pound turkey and bought another for $0.59/lb, then bought a third 12lb turkey for $0.245/lb! So we have about 15 pounds of meat in the freezer and capability of making about 36quarts of stock for…drum roll please…an average of $0.67/lb or a total of $10.02.)

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  1. Your recipes sound delicious! Thanks for the ideas and info.

    My favorite way to use up turkey leftovers is with my Poultry Noodle Bake: http://dardreams.wordpress.com/2008/03/29/poultry-noodle-bake. I use shirataki noodles to make this really low carb yet yummy and filling.

  2. I made the curry soup tonight and it is a big hit! Everybody loves it and it makes so much soup that I won’t have to cook again for a while. I didn’t have any of the green beans, so I threw in as much of the cauliflower as would fit and also cut up a couple of parsnips for it. It was wonderfully full.

    I love knowing low carb soups to make with my turkey leftovers.

    • Oh I’m so glad to hear you made it!!! And even more happy to hear it is a “flexible” recipe you can put your own stamp on. I love “YOI” recipes, don’t you? YOI = You Own It! That’s the goal of Fluffy Chix Cook recipes – to not have to get caught up in “exact measuring” or exact ingredients. All of my recipes can have substitutions and feel free to use the palm of your hand as a measuring guide!

      Cheers hon!! Thanks for the feedback.

      • Susie, as a cookbook author, I always find it funny when people write me and say “Would it be okay if I made this recipe with…” Ground turkey instead of ground beef, or stevia instead of Splenda, or spaghetti squash instead of shirataki, whatever the change is. I often answer “I won’t come to your house and smack you.” ;-P

        In baking it can be a bigger deal, since a lot of baking is chemistry. But in a skillet supper or a casserole? No harm, no foul.

        • Dana,
          Great point and so true!!! Baking is the main area where I do use exact measures and especially low carb baking where substitutions may have unintended and unexpected outcomes! I can count on one hand the number of non-baking recipes where I actually use a precise measure and those are all recipes from my daddy – where I want to try to recapture his exact result!

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