Commander's Palace's Legendary Turtle Soup Recipe

Commander's Palace's Legendary Turtle Soup Recipe
Staff Writer

This dish is usually mentioned in the same sentence as Commander’s Palace.  We are famous for it, but it can easily be made at home when you want a hearty soup to warm your bones. - Edited by Yasmin Fahr

Adapted from “Commander’s Wild Side” by Chef Tory McPhail

Ingredients

  • 12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) butter
  • 2 ½ pounds turtle meat, diced (beef or a combination of lean beef and veal stew meat may be substituted)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 6 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 large head garlic, individual cloves peeled and minced
  • 3 bell peppers, diced
  • 1 tablespoon ground dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon ground dried oregano
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 quarts veal stock or low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 bottle dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon TABASCO, or to taste
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 large lemons, juiced
  • 3 cups peeled, seeded, and diced tomatoes
  • 10 ounces fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 6 medium eggs, hard-boiled and chopped

Directions

Melt four tablespoons butter in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add meat, salt, and pepper and cook until liquid is almost evaporated, about 18 minutes. Stir in the onions, celery, garlic, bell peppers, thyme, oregano, and bay leaves and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes, until vegetables are caramelized. Add the stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and skimming away any fat that comes to the surface. 

Meanwhile prepare the roux by melting the remaining 8 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Gradually add the flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, and cook for 3 minutes, until nutty and pale with the consistency of wet sand. 

Vigorously whisk the roux into the soup a little at a time to prevent lumps. Simmer soup, for another 25 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Then add the sherry, TABASCO and Worcestershire and cook for 10 minutes, skimming away any fat or foam that may rise to the surface while cooking. Lastly, add the lemon juice, tomatoes, spinach, and eggs, then bring back to a simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes, allowing to incorporate. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed. Soup can be made up to 3 days ahead and frozen up to 1 month. 

No turtle?  Substitute ground veal for “mock” turtle soup.

Turtle Soup Shopping Tip

Buy fresh herbs and spices to season your soup; fresh garlic, parsley, and thyme will enhance the flavor without being overpowering.

Turtle Soup Cooking Tip

Most soups are better the day after their made. If possible refrigerate your soup overnight before serving.

Turtle Soup Wine Pairing

Chenin blanc with cream soups; pinot noir, gamay, grenache, or other light red wines with tomato-based soups, including tomato-based seafood soups; sercial or bual madeira or fino or manzanilla sherry with consommé or black bean soup; amontillado with black bean soup.