Creole Turtle Soup Recipe

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From Nola Cuisine Images – (reedited)

Turtle Soup is almost as synonymous with Nola Cuisine as Gumbo, in fact, it probably outsells the Gumbo in a lot of establishments. Unlike the clear Turtle Soups made in other parts of the world, the Louisiana variety is a dark, robust soup, bordering on a stew. There are also Mock Turtle Soups which are good as well, usually made with Beef and Veal. I have more than a sneaking suspicion that most restaurant versions are a combination of the two. Turtles are said to contain about 7 different flavors of meat, so it would be very easy to slip a more inexpensive meat in with the Turtle, I’ve even heard of some places slipping in some Alligator. I always raise an eyebrow when the “Turtle Meat” in some versions is ground, as opposed to cubed, it’s a red flag that says “Probably Not All Turtle Meat Here.” That’s fine though, they still taste delicious, and it would take a very refined palate to tell the difference.

As far as finding Turtle Meat in your area, you may have a bit of a challenge. If you have a great Asian Market in your area, it’s probably your best bet, they may even have them live if you would like to butcher them yourself. It’s a messy business though, with a lot of blood and Post Mortem squirming. No thanks, I buy frozen. If you do butcher your own you will have access to ingredients that squeamish cooks like myself can’t find in the freezer. Calipash and Calipee, and possibly Turtle eggs. Some connoisseurs have said that they can tell if a Turtle Soup is truly authentic by the lumps of Calipash and Calipee in the soup. Calipash is the dull-green fatty substance inside the upper shell (Carapace). Calipee is the light yellow fatty substance attached to the bottom shell (Plastron).
If you can purchase bone-in Turtle Meat, do so! You can Roast the bones and infuse the flavor into your Beef Stock. Roast them in a 400 degree F oven until a nice deep brown, then add them to your Beef Stock and simmer for 30 minutes to an hour.
Here is my recipe:

Creole Turtle Soup Recipe

1 Cup Unsalted Butter
1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour

4 Tbsp Usalted Butter
1 lb Turtle Meat Cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 1/2 Cup Onion, Finely Diced
1 Cup Celery, Finely Diced
1/4 Cup Green Onion, Finely Sliced
2 tsp Garlic, Minced
2 Fresh Bay Leaves
1 1/2 Cup Fresh Tomato, Diced
1 Qt Beef Stock
1 Pinch Cayenne
1 Pinch Ground Allspice
2 Tbsp Fresh Thyme Leaves
1 Tbsp Fresh Marjoram, Chopped
Salt and Black Pepper to taste
1/4 Cup Fresh Lemon Juice
4 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
3 Tbsp Sherry
3 Hard Boiled Eggs, Whites diced, Yolks Riced
Lemon Slices
5 tsp Italian Pasley, Finely Chopped

Melt the 1 Cup of Butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan, whisk in the flour, cook to make a peanut butter colored Roux. Set aside. For more on making a Roux, click here.
In a large saucepan or dutch oven, melt the 4 Tbsp of Unalted Butter over medium-high heat, add the diced Turtle Meat and saute until nicely browned.
Lower the heat to medium, add both types of onions, the celery, and garlic. Season with salt and black pepper. Saute until the vegetables are tender.
Add the tomatoes, season with a little salt so they will break down, cook for 10 minutes.
Add the Beef Stock, Worcestershire, Cayenne, Allspice, and Bay Leaves. Bring to a boil, then down to a simmer. Simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally and skimming off any impurities that may rise to the surface.
Whisk in the Roux, simmer until thickened and smooth. Add the Thyme, and Marjoram, simmer for 15-20 minutes more.
Add the Lemon Juice, 3 tsp of the Parsley, and the riced Egg Yolk, heat through.
Serve garnished with Lemon Slices, Diced Egg Whites, and Parsley. Add the Sherry at the table, about 1-2 tsp per bowl.

Serves 4-6

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35 thoughts on “Creole Turtle Soup Recipe”

  1. I had turtle soup once at Commander’s Palace and it was incredible. I doubt I can find turtle meat in SLC, but it was still very fun seeing the recipe.

  2. It tastes wonderful as a Mock Turtle Soup as well Kalyn, just substitute a few types of meats for the Turtle. I would use Beef, Veal, and Pork.

  3. Nola;
    My uncle was a great turtle trapper on the Wabash river and my aunt cooked up turtle soup once a year for all us inlaws

    I have been told by a few people that turtle soup cures asthma. Any word on this???

    My aunt and Uncle are long gone now. Where can I purchase turtle soup for my family?

  4. Hi. What kind of turtles do you use for your turtle soup????? Inquiring minds like mine wanna know!!! I have 3 Red Eared Slider turtles for pets and I treat them like they are my kids. They’re cute. I just hope that RES turtle meat IS NOT being used!! I don’t think turtles should be eaten…..PERIOD!!!!!!

  5. Chris,

    Softshell or snapping turtles are used for soup. They would rather take your finger or hand off in one bite than be your pet.

    I do hope you are a child—otherwise your sentiments are a bit naive. My family has had chickens and cows as pets for years, and we still eat them…and chickens and cows are actually cuddly!

  6. I am in the process of using your recipe to make my first attempt at turtle soup. I had it once before and realy enjoyed it. I eat mostly wild game as a rule, but haven’t had the opportunity until now to make anything from turtle.
    I will let you know how it turns out….
    thank you for posting this recipe….Greg

  7. Well I gotta tell ya…..In the words of Justin Wilson “Woooooo Boy, I Gaurantee”
    That made some mighty fine soup….only next time I think I will use less marjoram and thyme….It was great, dont get me wrong, just a personal note 🙂
    Hope everyone else that tries this recepe likes it as well. Thanks for posting it…..Greg Croley

  8. I just caught a 30lb snapper out of mentor ohio. First we cut the haed off and hung the turtle to bleed for 12 hours and proceeded to remove the meat by using razor blades and a very sharp knife. This process takes some time however, well worth it in the end. I am excited to try your recipe and will let you know how it went.

  9. Yes Sir! Turtle squirm for a long time. They keep trying to walk away during the cleaning process, long after the head has been removed.

  10. this site was very helpful. i picked up a snapping turtle while leaving from work on friday, sitting in the parking lot waiting for me? i called a couple of my friends who know a lot more than i do about reptiles, and they helped me a lot. wow, i can’t believe they’re moving so much after the head is off. well even if i do like the turtle, i’ll probably never do one again, it’s a lot of prep and work. but at least i can say i did it myself. bon apetite!

  11. To all those that think that turtles should not be eaten. I’ve never eaten turtle but intend on trying after a medium size snapper just bit our curious chocolate lab “Baron” in the nose. Thank goodness he’s fast and got away without losing his entire nose. My husband and neighbor killed it, cleaned it and are preparing the meat to cook. Thanks for the recipe.

    June 22, 2008

  12. Can Eastern Spiny Softshell turtles be eaten? If so, is it as good as snapping turtle meat?

  13. My God there’s not enough o’s in good for this soup. I never made a roux before, it took me 1 hour and 20 minutes of constant stirring. I went for the dark chocolate look. First time was perfect. I never had turtle before. But will have it again!!!

  14. I am trying to find turtle meat for Dad’s birthday.
    It is a traditional family favorite from Grandma.
    So far I have not found a market that carries or can order it . . .

    please advise.

  15. Gee’s lofe magazine printed how to make turtle soup yrs ago and i thought i had 4 turtles as pets. its hard to think of your pet in someone’s soup. oh well if you like turtle soup then bon a petite as for me just give me my veggie stir fry and i’m happy.

  16. The greatest turtle soup EVER was at Kolb’s restaurant in New Orleans. Folks would drive for 100’s of miles to purchase 5 gallons at a time. Unfortunately it has been closed for many years. If anyone knows the receipe please pass it along. many thanks

  17. Red Eared Sliders are not worth cleaning. Not enough meat for the work. I caught a monster soft shell and that is well worth cleaning and from the reviews, I’m seriously considering this recipe. Thanks everybody.

  18. just caught a very large spiny soft shelled on Petite Lake in IL. and it was a battle. had a nitecrawler on my hook and thought i was snagged. now i know why i have been reeling in what i thought was a huge fish and then it was sitting on bottom like a ton of bricks. had to wade out and nudge him with the net. cant believe my 8lb test held up. i had to play this catch very smart. recipe looks yummy! not sure if ill try keeping her or eating her yet…

  19. This recipe was wonderful! I have made the Turtle soup recipe from Commander’s Palace but my family went wild over this recipe. I was able to find frozen turtle meat at our local Rouse’s supermarket.

  20. Phenomonal recipe – made it once this spring and it was seriously the best dish I have ever made in my life. Going to make my second batch, which will be about three times the normal quantity, for all of my employees. Definitely recommended, superb flavor. FYI – I’m using snapping turtles from WI.

  21. hi, i live on the wabash. and i was woundering if you knew if it was still safe to eat turtles from the river. ive seen some huge buggers in there. and as i am a person who has had a chunck taken out of her from a snapper. i want to take a chunk out of one of them. lol.

  22. Well, I’ve never made turtle soup but your riecpe sounds great! I’ll let you know how it turns out. Thanks

  23. My uncle used to make “cowan” (Turtle soup) on a regular basis. I remember he cut the head off a “gynormous” turtle that walked around the back yard with me on it’s back, after the head was off!

    I was 5, skinny as a rail, and (obviously), light as a butterfly!

    Thanks for the recipe!

  24. I found you receipe on the web, I am going to pick up some turtle this weekend. They are charging 10 dollars a pound on the bone. I am thinking of adding some oxtails, pork, to stretch it a bit. Your’s looks like the best I have seen so far on the net.

  25. Oh My Dear Lord! This recipe is amazing! My Son and I just caught 4 Red Eared Sliders about 8″ to 10″ long in, Springfield, Louisiana, yielding about 1 1/4 pounds of meat. This recipe made the best Soup, Stew, Gumbo, I have ever had. Thank you so much! The RES meat was very tasty. Even the leg quartrs from the smallest turtle, about 6″, were tasty and easy to eat. Turtle bones are like small chicken bones, rounded and smooth. They are not sharp and rigid like fish bones. It was easy to eat and pick the bones out. I would recommend some bread or rice to soak up that wonderful soup. Red Eared Sliders are the most plentiful of all turtles living in ditchs, swamps, drainage canals, rivers, just about anywhere. They are always blamed for depleting fish stock in ponds and fishing holes so I wondered how they tasted. Well with this recipe at least they taste just amazing. The largest was full of eggs, now to find a recipe for them for tomorrow morning…

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