Turtle Soup

This is the final chapter of my turtle saga, this summer I decided to try to catch and butcher some turtle for the purpose of eating. The butchering was harder than I imagined it would be but the eating has been fantastic. When I told people about my turtle plan they all asked the same question. Are you going to make soup? At first it wasn't my intention to make soup, I wanted to use the turtle meat in ways that weren't necessarily normal turtle dishes. My first attempt was a very simple buttermilk fried turtle with home made barbecue sauce. After that I stretched my scope just a little and made a beautiful version of General Tso's chicken with turtle. After that I had about a pound of turtle meat left in the freezer and wasn't sure what I wanted to do with it. I finally decided that maybe I should make a soup, just to say that I had in fact made turtle soup.
I had read about a 100 recipes for turtle soup and they all looked about the same. I really wanted to try and re-create Escoffier's version but I lack the know how to convert a recipe for a 75 lbs turtle into a single batch. I needed a little bit more guidance as I have never made a turtle soup before. I found a recipe for a Creole Turtle soup that had many of the same ingredients as Escoffier's so I went with that one.
Like many great creole recipes this one starts with a roux, a very simple mixture of flour and butter that with the right amount of heat and time becomes something magical. When you first mix the flour and butter together you get a blonde mixture that is very useful for thickening soups, sauces and other dishes. But if you continue to stir the roux over medium low heat for about a half hour it takes on a very nutty aroma and changes color, it gets darker the longer you cook it.

After 30 minutes you end up with a darker roux that has a similar color to peanut butter if I continued to cook it for another 30 minutes it would get as dark as chocolate and would be very useful in an Etouffee or Gumbo.


 This soup assembled very similar to other creole favorites, brown the meat add the onions, celery and garlic, then tomatoes, seasoning and liquid then simmer. It reminded me so much of an Etouffee that I actually considered serving it over rice. It was incredibly rich and packed with flavor and the little bits of turtle that had simmered for more than an hour and a half were very tender. My only problem with this soup was, if i hadn't made it and known there was turtle in it you would never have known it was turtle. The soup and veggies were incredible but the pieces of turtle had no distinct flavor what so ever. I might as well have made this with chicken or beef.
As part of the turtle process I kept the turtles alive for 2 weeks in fresh water, changing the water every day so they could flush themselves out. Now I am wondering if I didn't flush out all the flavor, or maybe this soup was just to flavorful for the turtle to stand out. When I made the General Tso's I could actually tell I wasn't eating chicken, the turtle was able to hold its own in that dish but in this soup the turtle sort of hid out in all the other flavors. I really liked this soup and think I might try it again with crayfish or shrimp but I think this was my last turtle dish for a while.

Turtle Soup

1 stick Unsalted Butter
1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour

Stir  constantly on medium low heat until peanut butter brown

4 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
1 lb Turtle Meat Cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1  yellow Onion, Finely Diced
3 stalks of celery Celery, Finely Diced
3 cloves Garlic, Minced
2 Fresh Bay Leaves
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 Qt Beef stock
3-4 dashes chipotle powder or more if you like it spicy
1/2 teaspoon  Ground Allspice
1 small bunch Fresh Thyme sprigs
2 sprigs fresh Marjoram,
Salt and Black Pepper to taste
Juice from one lemon
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp Sherry Vinegar
3 Hard boiled egg yolks mashed with a fork

Garnish With

3 Hard Boiled Eggs, Whites diced
Italian Parsley, Finely Chopped

1. In a large heavy Pot Melt the 4 tablespoons of butter and then brown the turtle meat on high heat

2. Lower the heat to Medium and add the onion, celery and garlic and cook until soft season with salt and black pepper

3. Pour in the crushed tomatoes and cook for 5-10 minutes

4. Add the Beef Stock, Worcestershire, Chipotle, Allspice, and Bay Leaves. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Simmer for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally
5. Whisk in the Roux, simmer until thickened and smooth.  Tie the thyme, and marjoram together  and add to the soup, simmer for 25-30 minutes more.
6. Add the Lemon Juice,  and the sherry vinegar then stir in the mashed Egg Yolks, heat through.
7. Serve garnished with Diced Egg Whites, and Parsley.