Turtle Soup

Turtle Soup
Matt Taylor-Gross

The recipe for this classic preparation—spiked here with warm spices and dried anise-like herbs to contrast the mild gaminess of the turtle meat—comes from chef Bill Smith of Crook's Corner in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and is finished with old-school garnishes like hard-boiled eggs and a splash of sherry. If you can't find turtle meat, boneless veal shoulder makes a fine substitute. Freeze the turtle and beef for 20 minutes to make cutting easier.

Turtle Soup
This classic Cajun preparation is spiked dried anise-like herbs and spices to contrast the mild gaminess of the turtle meat, and finished with sherry.
Yield: serves 8-10
Time: 2 hours

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 12 cup (2 1/4 oz.) all-purpose flour
  • 6 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 lb. beef chuck, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 lb. turtle meat, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 (28-oz.) can whole, peeled tomatoes in juice, crushed by hand
  • 1 tsp. whole allspice
  • 1 tsp. whole cloves
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 1 12 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 12 tsp. dried marjoram
  • 1 12 tsp. dried thyme
  • 12 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 12 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 14 cup minced flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, minced
  • Sherry or madeira, for serving (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a 6-qt. saucepan, heat the butter over medium. Stir in the flour and cook the roux, whisking constantly, until it turns the color of peanut butter, about 12 minutes. Add the celery, bell pepper, and onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the beef and turtle and cook, stirring, until no longer pink, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Pour in the stock and tomatoes and bring to a boil.
  2. Tie the allspice, cloves, and bay leaves in a piece of cheesecloth and add to the soup along with the basil, marjoram, thyme, and chile flakes. Reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer and cook, partially covered and stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender, about 1 hour. Remove the soup from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, 3 tablespoons of the parsley, and two-thirds of the egg. Season the soup with salt and pepper.
  3. To serve, pour a splash of sherry into the bottom of each serving bowl and ladle the soup into the bowls. Garnish each with some of the remaining parsley and egg before serving.