A New Orleans classic, turtle soup is a staple at Creole restaurants in the Big Easy—unfortunately, turtle isn’t exactly a common protein at the average grocery’s butcher counter. In its place, we’re throwing it back to a 2019 recipe shared by our sister publication 225 magazine, offering a substitute that can easily be made at home for special occasions and cocktail parties. Instead of its usual reptilian focal point, this mock turtle soup uses ground sirloin in addition to traditional ingredients, and may even be comparable to the high-end turtle soups found in restaurants across south Louisiana.
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
½ cup finely chopped onion
½ cup finely chopped celery
½ cup finely chopped bell pepper
½ cup tomato paste
1½ pounds ground sirloin
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
4 cups low-sodium beef broth
1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup sherry, plus more for serving
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon paprika
2 -3 bay leaves
2 hardboiled eggs, finely chopped
1. In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Saute the onion, celery and bell pepper for 3-4 minutes. Add the tomato paste and continue to saute for another 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside.
2. In a large pot, add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Brown the ground meat over medium heat until it is no longer pink. Add the browned meat to the onion-tomato paste mixture. Wipe out the bottom of the pot.
3. Place the pot back over medium heat. Add the butter and flour to make a roux.
4. Cook the roux for several minutes, stirring constantly to prevent it from burning. Continue cooking until the roux becomes the color of peanut butter.
5. Whisk in the beef broth and stir until smooth. Add in the crushed tomatoes and the ground meat mixture.
6. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, sherry and remaining seasonings.
7. Bring the soup to a simmer, then lower the heat. Continue cooking on low for 30-40 minutes.
8. Serve the soup with chopped hardboiled eggs, fresh chopped parsley and a little more sherry, if desired.
Note: This soup is better when made a day ahead so the flavors can come together.