Let’s face it: Thanksgiving creates leftovers. Especially during a year in which the holiday might better be called Staygiving.

Perhaps, out of habit or a spurt of wild optimism, you bought the usual massive turkey, then wound up with three guests because... COVID.

So now you have an almost-wholly-intact turkey carcass and enough leftover mashed potatoes to seal up the San Andreas Fault. And perhaps, if you are like me, you have one of those irritating side-by-side refrigerators in which the freezer is so slim that the Tater Tots have to line up single-file.

In that case, you will want to eat as many of the Thanksgiving leftovers as possible. The good news is that turkey tastes like chicken, so you can swap it out for almost any of the 40 gobzillion chicken recipes on the internet. But it lends itself especially well to soup, which is basically an essential winter staple around here.

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I’ve also included a recipe for potato pancakes. When I was little, Mom used to make a mean pancake out of leftover spuds, mixing them with an egg, some milk, salt and pepper and a little onion, then frying them in butter or oil to a nice, golden crisp.

However, after my sister married Rob, we rarely get potato pancakes anymore. That’s because Rob considers it to be his official son-in-law’s duty to finish off all leftover potatoes. The irony is that Rob is so thin he would fit neatly in my freezer, right next to the single-file Tater Tots. But he can put away mashed potatoes like a horde of hungry lumberjacks. So, go figure.

The “chicken” enchilada soup (ha, ha, we know it’s turkey) only takes 20 minutes to cook, excluding time it takes to chop the veggies and fend off the cats while plucking turkey meat off the carcass. However, you can also make it in the slow cooker, which will give the ingredients even more time to meld together. Just remember to hold off adding the cheese until right before serving.

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Tastes-Like-Chicken Enchilada Soup


2 tablespoons avocado or olive oil

1 small onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ cup masa harina (a corn flour found in most grocery stores)*

3 cups chicken stock

2 cups cooked, shredded chicken or turkey

1 ¼ cups (10 ounces) enchilada sauce

1 (15-ounce) can black beans

1 (15-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, with juices**

1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles**

½ teaspoon ground cumin

8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, freshly grated

1 teaspoon salt, or more/less to taste

*In a pinch, you can substitute with two corn tortillas ground fine in a food processor.

**You can swap out fire-roasted tomatoes and chiles with equal amounts of Rotel diced tomatoes and green chiles.

Optional toppings:

Tortilla chips/strips

Diced avocado

Extra shredded cheese

Sour cream

Chopped fresh cilantro

Pico de gallo


Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute for 5 minutes, or until cooked and translucent. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute more. Stir in masa harina and cook for an additional minute.

Pour in half of the chicken stock and stir until completely combined. Add in remaining chicken stock and stir to combine. Add in the chicken, enchilada sauce, black beans, tomatoes, green chiles, salt and cumin, and stir until combined. Continue stirring occasionally until mixture simmers. Reduce heat to medium-low and let it simmer for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally so soup doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Then stir in the cheese. Taste, and season the soup to taste.

Crispy Mashed Potato and Stuffing Pancakes


2 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons finely chopped onion (or scallions)

¼ teaspoon pepper

2 cups mashed potatoes

2 cups prepared stuffing

2 cups chopped cooked turkey (optional)

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons avocado oil

Unsweetened applesauce (optional as topping)


In a large bowl, whisk eggs, onion and pepper. Stir in potatoes, turkey and stuffing.

In a large skillet, heat butter and oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, drop potato mixture by 1/2 cupfuls into skillet; press to flatten slightly. Fry on each side until golden brown and heated through, 4-5 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

Readers can reach columnist Tammy Swift at tswiftsletten@gmail.com.