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[mock] Turtle Soup for the Soul

I was recently blindsided by a crisis of conscience when I least expected it. I was doing one of my very infrequent scrolldowns on facebook when I found an image so confronting that I was completely unnerved. My soul was pierced:

baby bunnies

I couldn't deny the cuteness of these bunnies. They are so cute that if rabbits grew hands and spent more time online, and not just in hutches, Mama Rabbit might see this photo, turn to Daddy Rabbit and say, 'I think we should have another bunny.'

Here is what disturbed me. My friend had hoped to raise support and concern for the bunnies, but I didn’t feel it. She wanted me to Save All The Bunnies, but the only thought in my head was, “Sure I’ll save them….for DINNER!” (Followed by evil villain laugh.) This wasn’t just a reaction to a picture, this was a bunny-sized collision of ideology.

I’ve never even eaten rabbit. I think I was just being contrary, like the Tawny Scrawny Lion who eats all the animals. All of them. And he has a learing, hungry eye cast on the bunnies as well.

tawny scrawny lionBut then, he goes from rabid carnivore to gentle pescetarian because the bunnies (clever, clever bunnies!) cooked a far more satisfying meal for the lion, a meal that finally fills up his belly.  And do you know what that magical meal was? Soup.

I remember being frustrated as a child by the implausibility of this scenario. How could a lion ever be truly satisfied with soup? not to mention hold a spoon? Which is an activity requiring a level of dexterity that, to my understanding, lions just don't possess. And also, in terms of a narrative arc, here was the deus ex machina moment, and it was…soup?? I don’t think so.

Although, let's be honest. A lot can hinge on a bowl of soup. Remember that bowl of soup that Jacob ladled into the bowl for the Beefy Hairy Esau? That was a pretty pivotal bowl of soup. Soup can change things.

One day, when I was very young, my mother made me some soup. And not just any soup. The Best Soup. The Most Wonderful Soup, The Most Filling and Delicious Soup of All Time, the kind of soup that is so rich and good that there is flavour, and then more flavours underneath the flavour. The kind of soup that can stop my contrariness. The kind of soup that might have run down Esau's beard as he held the bowl up to his mouth, slurping down the last mouthfuls, chasing off any second-thoughts about last wills and testaments. (Oh no! I have built up this soup too high in your minds!) I offer you...Turtle Soup. Turtle soup, you ask? Yes, yes, I know. The irony. Bunnies are out but somehow turtles are in? But wait! There is a mockturtle version.

Turtle Soup for Laurel Moffatt blog LRM

This is my mother’s recipe card from her recipe box. She is the Queen of All Soups, and Grand Collector of Interesting Recipes. I especially like her description of the recipe:

'I got this recipe from a friend in New Orleans who had a friend who was a chef at Commander's Palace in the Garden District. Commander's was one of my most favorite restaurants and I always ordered a cup of this delectable soup. Use veal cutlets cut up if turtle is on endangered list [IF, Mom? IF???], use canola oil instead of crisco.  When you add the flour, add slowly and stir until well blended.  This will make a light roux.'

In case you're wondering, a gallon is a lot. And I’ve only ever eaten the chicken/veal version by the way. I could never eat turtle. That would just be wrong. Because we must Save All The Turtles. :)

+++++

MOCKTURTLE SOUP (yield = 3.7 litres)
1 cup oil
1 lb. veal and chicken cut in 1" cubes (a little over 500 g. cut into 2cm. cubes)
Sauté meat in oil for approx. 15 minutes

Add:
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced celery
6 cloves diced garlic
Cook 10 min.

Blend in slowly:
1 cup flour
Cook 15 min.

Add:
16 oz. tomato purée (453 grams)
3 quarts water (3.4 litres)
1/4 cup B-V extract (this is going to have to be experimented with. From what I can tell B-V Extract was a product available in the US beginning in WWII as a way of stretching dishes when meat was rationed. I'm going to play around with stocks and maybe even bouillon to get the right flavour.)

Add:
2 tsp. celery salt
4 bay leaves
12 cloves
1 tsp thyme - ground
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
Salt and Pepper and Lea & Perrins to taste
Simmer 2 hours

Garnish:
Lemon slices
Chopped egg
Sherry

2 Comments

  1. Renee Jones Renee Jones

    Ah, lovely. You might enjoy this:

    • lrmoffatt@gmail.com lrmoffatt@gmail.com

      This is great--thanks Renee!

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