Creole Turtle Soup
Your hardest task will be to find turtle meat. My first advice would be to cruise the Asian markets in your town, if you have any. Or, if you have the funds, you can actually buy wild snapping turtle meat online. It'll cost you, but the tub of meat is enough for several meals. More likely, however, you will be substituting. Alligator is the closest thing to turtle in my experience, and frog legs come pretty close, too. Barring those options, I might use a combination of chicken thighs, pork shoulder and clams. (I've never done it, so you'd have to come up with your own ratio.) You can skip the clams if you think that's too weird, but remember that turtle does have a seafoody taste. Once you've cleared the meat hurdle, everything else is easy.
Servings: 8 people
- 2 1/2 pounds turtle meat on the bone, or 1 1/2 pounds boneless
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 cup flour
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 celery stalks, minced
- 1 green bell pepper, minced
- 1 1/2 cups minced onion
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 18- ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
- 1/2 cup dry sherry
- 1/3 cup chopped parsley
- 2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
- Grated zest of a lemon
- Black pepper
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Start by making the turtle stock. Put the turtle meat into a large pot and cover with 8 cups of water. Add the bay leaves and about a tablespoon of salt. Bring to a boil and skim the scum that floats to the top. Drop the heat to a bare simmer and cook until the turtle meat wants to fall off the bone, about 2 to 3 hours.
Remove the meat from the pot and pull it off the bones. Chop as coarse or as fine as you want. Strain the turtle broth and put it into a pot set over low heat to keep warm.
In a Dutch oven or other soup pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat and stir in the flour. Cook this, stirring almost constantly, to make a roux the color of peanut butter, which will take about 10 to 15 minutes.
Add the green pepper, celery and onion and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Add the chopped turtle meat and stir to combine.
Stir in a cup of the turtle stock at a time until you the soup is the consistency of gravy. Add the tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne and paprika. Add more turtle broth until the soup thins a bit. It should be thicker than water, thinner than gravy -- like chicken and dumplings if you are familiar with that. Simmer gently for 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft.
Finish the soup with the sherry, parsley, lemon zest and hard-boiled eggs. Add them all, stir to combine and simmer for a minute or two. Add salt, black pepper and lemon juice to taste. Serve alone or with rice.