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Mock Turtle Soup


Soup made in imitation of the, prized but impossibly expensive, turtle-meat soup. Known since the mid-18th Century and popular in the 19th. Usually made from calf's head and light vegetables, often with a green colouring to imitate the greenish fat of turtles, and served with balls of egg or forcemeat. For the real thing, see Turtle Soup

The Mock Turtle in Alice in Wonderland, portrayed by Tenniel as having a calf's head

Original Receipt in 'English Housewifry' by Elizabeth Moxon, 1764 (Moxon 1764)

Take a fine large calf's head, cleans'd well and stew'd very tender, a leg of veal twelve pounds weight, leave out three pounds of the finest part of it; then take three fine large fowls, (bone them, but leave the meat as whole as possible,) and four pounds of the finest ham sliced; then boil the veal, fowls bones, and the ham in six quarts of water, till it is reduced to two quarts, put in the fowl and the three pounds of veal, and let them boil half an hour; take it off the fire and strain the gravy from it; add to the gravy three pints of the best white wine, boil it up and thicken it; then put in the calf's-head; have in readiness twelve large forc'd-meat-balls, as large as an egg, and twelve yolks of eggs boil'd hard. Dish it up hot in a terreen.

Original Receipt from 'A Plain Cookery Book for the Working Classes' by Charles Elmé Francatelli (Francatelli 1846)

14. Good White Mock Turtle Soup may be easily and cheaply made thus : - Purchase a calf's head ; if large, use one half for a day's dinner ; cook as receipt No. 87 ; take the remains of that, if any, with the other half, and remove the bone ; cut the meat into square pieces ; add it in proportion of one pound of meat to every four quarts of broth of No. 1 ; mix some flour and milk, as above, and add it to it, and half a teaspoonful ei cayenne pepper, and four cloves ; let it simmer on the fire for one hour, tie up six sprigs of savory, same of thyme, which put into the soup, and remove when serving. The juice of half a lemon is an improvement, just before serving, as well as a drop of wine, if handy. If required brown, add three tablespoonfuls ol colouring ; and use water or broth for thickening, instead of milk. The water in which the calf's head is boiled may be kept, and added to the stock. This soup will keep for a long time if boiled occasionally, and a little water added ; it should never be covered, or fermentation will commence ; it should be occasionally stirred until cold. Strong stocks are more likely to turn sour than thin ones, more particularly if they have vegetables and flour in them ; to prevent which, when this soup is kept in a basin, leave the mouth exposed to the air.

A vegetarian version is given in Mrs. Mill's 'Reform Cookery Book'...

Original Receipt in the 'Reform Cookery Book' (4th edition) by Mrs. Mill (Mill 1909)

Mock Turtle Soup.

Prepare a quantity of strong, clear, highly-flavoured stock of a greenish-brown colour. The colour can be obtained by boiling some winter greens or spinach along with the other things. A few chopped gherkins, capers, or chillies will give the required piquancy. Have 4 ozs. tapioca soaked overnight, add to the boiling stock and cook gently till perfectly clear. Some small quenelles may be poached separately and put in tureen.

Heinz Mock Turtle Soup, c1933
Image: Ebay mav0110

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