- 1 1/2 sticks butter
- 2 1/2 pounds turtle meat, cut into medium dice*
- Salt and freshly cracked pepper
- 2 medium onions, cut into medium dice
- 6 stalks celery, cut into medium dice
- 30 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 bell peppers, cut into medium dice
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme, ground
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano, ground
- 4 bay leaves
- 2 quarts veal stock
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 26 ounces dry sherry (750-ml bottle)
- 1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce
- 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 2 large lemons, juiced
- 3 cups peeled, chopped, and seeded tomatoes
- 10 ounces fresh spinach, stems removed, washed 3 times, and roughly chopped
- 6 medium hard-boiled eggs, chopped into large pieces
*Cook's Note: We use alligator snapping turtles, which are a farm-raised fresh water species available all year long. Turtle meat usually comes in 2 1/2-pound portions.
In a large soup pot over medium to high heat, melt 1/2 stick butter. Add turtle meat and brown. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Cook for about 18 to 20 minutes or until liquid is almost dry. Add onions, celery, garlic, and peppers, constantly stirring. Add thyme, oregano, and bay leaves and saute for about 22 minutes**. Add stock, bring to a boil, and simmer for 30 minutes. Skim any fat that comes to the top.
While stock is simmering, make the roux. In a small saucepan, melt remaining butter over medium heat. Slowly add flour, a little at a time, constantly stirring with a wooden spoon. Be careful not to burn. After all of the flour has been added, cook until roux smells nutty, is pale in color, and has a consistency of wet sand, about 3 minutes. Set aside to let cool until soup is ready (roux should be cool when adding to hot soup).
Using a whisk, stir the roux into the stock vigorously, adding a little at a time to prevent lumping. Simmer for about 25 minutes. Stir to prevent sticking on bottom. Add sherry and bring to a boil. Add hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Simmer and skim any fat or foam that comes to top. Add lemon juice and tomatoes and return to a simmer. Add spinach and eggs, return to a simmer and adjust seasoning.
**Cook's Note: Caramelizing vegetables and meats very will to get the dark color you are looking for.
***Cook's Note: This is like a stew, eaten as a main dish. This soup freezes well.
Professional Recipe: This recipe was provided by a chef, restaurant or culinary professional and makes a large quantity. The Food Network Kitchens chefs have not tested this recipe in the proportions indicated and therefore cannot make any representation as to the results.