Many housewives imagine that green turtle is too expensive, and too difficult to prepare for household use, and for these reasons it is seldom met with in private families, except in tin cans. Even this is not always made from turtle.
This soup is not any more expensive than many other kinds. A small turtle may be purchased at Fulton market for from ten to twenty cents per pound, and weighing from fifteen to forty pounds, the price varying according to the law of supply and demand. The only objection to small turtles is that they do not contain a very large percentage of the green fat, so highly prized by epicures.
Procure a live turtle, cut off the head, and allow it to drain and cool over night; next morning place it on the working table, lay it on its back, and make an incision round the inner edge of the shell; then remove it. Now remove the intestines carefully, and be very careful that you do not break the gall; throw these away; cut off the fins and all fleshy particles, and set them aside; trim out the fat, which has a blueish tint when raw; wash it well in several waters. Chop up the upper and under shells with a cleaver; put them with the fins into a large saucepan; cover them with boiling water; let stand ten minutes; drain and rub off the horny, scaly particles, with a kitchen towel.
Scald a large saucepan, and put all the meat and shell into it (except the fat); cover with hot water; add a little salt, and boil four hours. Skim carefully, and drain; put the meat into a large crock; remove the bones, and boil the fat in the stock. This does not take very long if first scalded. When done, add it also to the crock; pour the stock into another crock; let it cool, and remove all scum and oily particles; this is quite work enough for one day. Clean the saucepans used, and dry them thoroughly.
Next day fry out half a pound of fat ham; then add one chopped onion, one bay leaf, six cloves, one blade of mace, two tablespoonfuls of chopped celery tops, a tablespoonful of salt, a teaspoonful of white pepper, and one quart of ordinary soup stock. Simmer for half an hour. Now put the turtle stock on the fire; when hot strain the seasoning into it; remove the turtle from the other crock, cut it up, and add to the stock; now add a pint of dry sherry.
Do not let the soup come to a boil; taste for seasoning, and if herbs are needed tie a string to a bunch of mixed herbs, throw them into the soup, and tie the other end to the saucepan handle; taste often, and when palatable, remove the herbs. If the soup is not dark enough, brown a very little flour and add to it. Keep the soup quite hot until served; add quartered slices of lemon and the yolk of a hard boiled egg, quartered just before serving; send to table with a decanter of sherry.
The yolks of the eggs may be worked to a paste, and made into round balls to imitate turtle eggs if this is desired.
I have placed before my readers this complicated receipt in as simple a form as it is possible to do, having carefully avoided all the technical formulas used in the profession.