Thanksgiving Leftover Turkey Tomatillo Chili

August 26, 2022
4 Ratings
Photo by mayalittlepony
  • Prep time 40 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 15
Author Notes

AKA The best post-Thanksgiving soup you've ever had.

Opinion: there are not enough recipes using Tomatillos.

This original recipe was created by my uncle Jonny, a ski patroller out in Colorado who knows his way around a fine tequila. It was made as an ode to leftover Thanksgiving turkey, with a Tex-Mex spin. He’d take the leftover cooked turkey from the day before, and throw it on the charcoal grill and then throw it in the soup cubed up and smoky.

There’s something about this soup that I always craved. First, the smokiness was right up my alley. Even as a child the smokiness stuck with me (as smoke tends to do). Second, the slightly sour and tanginess from the Tomatillo was different and is hard to find in other soups without overpowering the dish or giving you serious acid reflux. Third, the Hominy. I don’t know why but the first time I tried hominy was in this soup, and it was the most perfect texture and consistency I had ever had. That slightly puffed, pillowy density. NOM.

As we got older, my father started to recreate it very very well, and it was my favorite part of every Thanksgiving. Eventually, I became more of a home chef/food connoisseur, and moved to Israel where unfortunately most of the ingredients to this perfect soup were nowhere to be found.

One year, I craved it so much that I asked my mom to ask her friend who was coming on a trip here with the Temple to bring hominy and tomatillos in her suitcase. Unfortunately she couldn’t bring the tomatillos, but she did manage to bring the hominy. It remained a prized possession in my trophy shelf of a pantry (right above the Better than Bullion, canned green chillies, chipotle, and Annie's Mac & Cheese).

I was determined to have the exact taste that I remembered so vividly. Even the Turkey was hard to find with the skin on it - so I asked the butcher in broken Hebrew if he had turkey breast with the skin still on it. He looked at me like I was insane for wanting the skin, but nevertheless - I persisted. The skin to me was critical for grilling, as it provided the fat, char & crispiness to the soup. So, he found some leftover turkey (probably a distant relative or sibling turkey) he had cut off earlier and packaged it separately layered above my turkey breast. Lol.

My love of intense flavors is both a blessing and a curse. No meal is extraordinary unless I’ve drawn out its best qualities to the MAX. So, smokiness in this dish was CRITICAL to its success. I decided to level it up. If I already had the grill on for the turkey - might as well grill all the vegetables for maximum char-age and caramelization. Gotta say, this was one of the more genius additions to this dish, and I ain't ever goin back.

You should approach this recipe as a choose your own adventure. Since I’ve made this dish, I’ve had a few variations and had to adapt to the ingredients available to me. Since I never had tomatillos, I simply went to the international food store around and got jar of salsa verde which was a damn good replacement! I basically used it like you would a can of tomatoes, as the base of the soup. The next time I was inspired to make this soup was when I got a ton of green tomatoes in my CSA (community supported agriculture - join one, it’s dope), and had no clue what to do with them. So, I expanded my experimentation of this soup and gave it a try. I even couldn't get turkey this time, since it was in the midst of the Covid-19 outbreak. Nevertheless, I persisted.

Even with all these changes in what I thought were critical ingredients, it came out BUL (in hebrew this means EXACT… on the dot… in this case, on the palate). So, here is my official recipe, democratized for humans everywhere to be able to make from almost anywhere in the world. Substitutions to the original do not disappoint! This recipe is BANGING. Nuf said - let's get to it.

What You'll Need
  • Main ingredients
  • 1 Onion (Chopped)
  • 3-4 Garlic
  • 1 Celery (Optional
  • 1 Cured Ham of any kind or Bacon
  • 1 Can White Beans (Cannellini or Northern White Bean, Butter Bean)
  • 1 Can Corn (or grill fresh corn)
  • 1 Can Hominy
  • 1 Can Green Chillies
  • Cilantro (Chopped)
  • Salsa Verde (if you don't have Tomatillos)
  • 4-5 cups Chicken Broth (or if starting with raw chicken or turkey, make broth with it first, then use that broth for your soup)
  • 2 teaspoons Cumin
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Add any smoked spices you have (Chipotle, smoked other stuff)
  • Grilled incredients
  • 10-12 Tomatillos (or Green Tomatoes)
  • 3 Red Tomatoes
  • 2 Jalapeños, Anaheim or other hot pepper
  • 1.5 pounds Turkey Tenderloin with skin if possible (Or leftover Thanksgiving Turkey!)
  1. Make broth: If you are working with raw turkey or chicken, start by cooking a broth with it (that you will use later in the soup). In a large pot add meat and cover with water, some onion chopped into 4 pieces, bay leaf, and whatever you want to add to make a soup broth. You can also add black peppercorns, or dried chillies just to add flavor. Simmer on low for 30 min to 1 hour. Reserve broth for later, and use chicken for grilling.
  2. Grill: Fire up your grill - charcoal, gas, honestly you could even try smoker idk. Throw the tomatoes tomatillos, peppers on the grill on medium heat. Make sure they sit there covered for awhile and get all the smokey goodness and meltiness inside. If it burns it’s okay, but try to only char it for flave. Grab your chicken or turkey - either the leftover or the one you used to make the broth - season with salt, pep and lemon and throw it on the grill on high. Char it up. Take everything off the grill to cool down so you can chop it. Add in the canned green chillies with juices.
  3. Soup time: While your grilled stuff is cooling, chop up the onion, garlic, celery and ham. Saute with olive oil in a large soup pot or dutch oven until translucent. Add salt & pep and whatever other smokey yum yum spices you have. If you’re not using Tomatillos, now’s the time to add your jar of salsa verde. Next, chop up all your grilled veggies and throw them in, in all their chunky chary glory. Pour in the broth you made from before or use whatever other broth you have. Take all the grilled chicken off the bone or chop up the grilled turkey & throw it in. Drain and rinse all your canned stuff and throw it in. Lastly, chop up some cilantro with stems and all and throw it in.
  4. That is it. ENJOY.

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3 Reviews

Afperry November 23, 2022
Best recipe for turkey leftovers!
Goose November 7, 2022
very goose
[email protected] August 26, 2022
Can’t wait for Thanksgiving!