Making turtle soup

Yield: 6 servings

Measure Ingredient
1 \N Snapping Turtle

Any old soup recipe will work for (snapping) turtle soup. The main problem with turtle soup is cleaning the turtle. You have to be certain that every last speck of fat is removed from the meat before cooking. This is not too difficult because the fat is between the skin and the flesh.

To butcher a turtle you start by chopping off the turtle's head. Be careful because the head will still bite even after it is removed from the body and the body will still crawl away after the head is removed. Turtles don't die right away.

When the body stops trying to crawl away, dip it in boiling water and scrape off the exterior layer of skin, including the shell. The result will be a bright white carcus, compared to the muddy brown-green you started with.

Next step is to remove the shell. Cut along grove on each side between the front and back legs. It is the narrowest part of the shell. The tail, neck and all four legs are attached to the top of the shell. Remove from shell and you have the bulk of the meat. However, there will be some meat on the bottom shell and top shell.

It is at this point that you remove the fat. Just roll back the skin and with a paring knife and your index finger scrape out the fat.

I learned about turtles from my parents who learned from their German immigrant fathers. It has been told in family circles that my maternal grandfather would catch snapping turtles by hand. I never saw him do it because he was hit and killed by a truck when I was about nine years old.

It was a big loss for me because he was just starting to teach me about turtles, wild mushrooms, dandelions and other natural things. He made the greatest doughnuts I ever ate.

Good luck with your turtle soup. Just cook it long with lots of vegetables and it will be good if you removed all of the fat. - Earl From Earl Shelsby

Collected by Bert Christensen

Toronto, Ontario


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