Turtle soup is a delicacy prepared in many different variations in countries including China, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, Japan and the United States. The ingredients vary accordingly depending on the culture but all recipes use the meat of turtles in a type of soup or stew.
Turtle soup is believed to taste like a mix of chicken thigh, clam and pork meat. Apart from its complex flavors it is also known for its health benefits. Turtle meat is low in calories, fats and cholesterol and is also considered to be a great source of nutrients. The meat is rich in protein, calcium, vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, phosphorus and zinc.
Turtle meat is often recommended to women to ease their menopausal symptoms like night sweats, hot flashes and irritability. It is said that the meat of a turtle helps to enrich the blood and calm the body.
Origin & Cultural Significance
Although the origin of turtle soup is unknown, it is believed that the use of turtle eggs, meats, and skins in Chinese medicine dates back to the 1960s.
Though there still isn’t much scientific information to verify this, there are still several traditional Chinese medicine practitioners who claim that its consumption has many benefits. Some of them include helping with one’s immune system, detoxifying the blood, lowering blood pressure, encouraging longevity and many more.
Today, this dish is considered a delicacy in China and several other countries in Southeast Asia, including Singapore. In the UK, turtle soup grew widely popular in the 1750s but this was very short-lived as overfishing caused the population of green turtles to decline significantly. It wasn’t long before it was no longer feasible to continue fishing them and so the practice of eating turtle soup in the UK died out.
The recipe below is the authentic Chinese version of turtle soup. In China and much of Southeast Asia, only soft shelled turtles are eaten due to the belief that hard shelled turtles have mythical properties.
Turtle Soup Recipe
- Turtle meat - 1 1/3 lb
- Water - 4 1/2 cups
- Onions (medium) - 2
- Bay leaf - 1
- Cayenne pepper - 1/4 tsp
- Salt - 1 1/4 tsp
- Butter (cubed) - 5 tbsp
- All-purpose flour - 1/3 cup
- Tomato puree - 3 tbsp
- Worcestershire sauce - 3 tbsp
- Chicken broth - 1/3 cup
- Hard-boiled eggs (chopped) - 2
- Lemon juice - 1/4 cup
- Chopped fresh parsley (optional)
- Begin by taking a 4-qt. saucepan and adding water to it. Add the turtle meat and bring water to a boil. Remove the foam. Cut an onion and keep it aside.
- Quarterthe other onion, and throw it in the saucepan along with the bay leaf, cayenne pepper and salt. Cover the pan and allow the dish to simmer until the meat becomes tender. This should take you about 2 hours or so.
- Take the meat out using a slotted spoon and cut it into 1/2-in. cubes. Set aside. Now, strain the broth and keep it aside.
- Takeanother saucepan and add butter to it. On a medium-high flame, melt it. Add the chopped onions and allow them to cook until they become tender.
- Once the onions are tender, add the flour and cook until bubbly and lightly browned. Make sure to stir continuously. Add in the set-aside broth and cook until thickened. Lower the heat and add the tomato puree and Worcestershire sauce.
- Let the dish simmer for about 10 minutes, and remember to cook it uncovered. Now, add chicken broth, eggs, lemon juice and meat cubes. Simmer for 5 more minutes and garnish with parsley, if preferred.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 252Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 138mgSodium: 797mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 24g