Monday, March 7, 2011

Turtle Soup Au Sherry

When I lived in New Orleans in the mid-eighties, Friday night dinner at Southern Yacht Club was a favorite routine. And I do mean routine: a red drink from the bar before dinner, then a bowl of turtle soup followed by a Ladies Filet (medium rare) and Brabant potatoes. Very occasionally, my filet might be exchanged for Trout Almondine, but the red drink, the turtle soup and the Brabant potatoes never changed.

The weather in New Orleans this past Thanksgiving was cool and gray -- perfect soup weather. DH and I hung out at Southern while B raced his Opti. I eschewed red drinks in favor of white wine, the perfect accompaniment to the butternut squash and tasso bisque and the turtle soup I ordered on successive days. Both soups were so luscious and different from others I'd been making; I couldn't wait to cook my own. First though, I'd have to get my hands on some tasso and some turtle. The butternut squash and tasso bisque made it on to the blog in January. The turtle soup had to wait a little longer.

We bought a couple of pounds of frozen turtle meat in a great little seafood market in Slidell when we were visiting DH's sister there at Christmas. The soup is very rich. I waited until we had dinner guests to make it so that DH and I would not be dining decadently for days.

If you're wondering what raw turtle meat looks like, wonder no more:

I adapted this recipe from one I found online for Commander's Palace Turtle Soup Au Sherry. Two and half sticks of butter sounded truly excessive, and the turtle meat needed to cook considerably longer than 30 minutes in order to be tender. My favorite gadget, the immersion blender, was needed to get the right consistency.

Turtle Soup Au Sherry


  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 pound turtle meat, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup minced celery (4 stalks)
  • 2 medium onions, minced (2 medium)
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-1/2 cups tomato purée
  • 1 1/2 quarts beef stock
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, as needed
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 lemon, halved and thinly sliced
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced parsley
  • 6 teaspoons dry sherry
  1. Melt 1 1/2 sticks butter in a heavy saucepan. Add the flour and cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat until the roux is a light medium brown. Set aside.
  2. In a 5-quart saucepan, melt the remaining butter and add turtle meat. Cook over high heat until the meat is brown. Add celery, onions, garlic and seasonings, and cook until the vegetables are transparent.
  3. Add tomato purée, lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the stock and simmer for 45 minutes or until the turtle meat is tender. Add additional stock as needed.
  4. Puree the soup using an immersion blender so that the turtle meat is in very small pieces. Add the roux and cook over low heat, stirring, until the soup is smooth and thickened.
  5. Correct seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Add lemon juice, eggs and parsley.
  7. Remove from the heat. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with lemon sliced and additional parsley.
  8. At the table, add 1 teaspoon sherry to each soup bowl.
Yield: 6 servings
Prep time: 45 minutes
Cook time: 1 1/2 hours

Bon Appétit!

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