The name "Bookbinder" comes from Samuel Bookbinder, a Jewish immigrant from the Netherlands who opened the "Old Original Bookbinder Restaurant" in 1893 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The original soup is a variety of turtle soup made with typical stew vegetables such as tomatoes, carrots, celery, bell peppers, onions, leeks, mushrooms, and garlic. It is made with common snapping turtle meat.
The soup spread to other places, such as the Drake Hotel in Chicago, where the turtle meat was replaced with red snapper. It's been said that red snapper was the substitute for the snapping turtle meat because of the similar-sounding name, but was actually chosen because of the similarity of red snapper's rich taste and texture to the snapping turtle meat. Its name became Bookbinder's Snapper Soup.
|Bookbinder's Restaurant in Philadelphia closed its door in March of 2009.|
Many had said that the Drake Hotel's Bookbinder's soup was more delectable than that served at the famous Bookbinder's Restaurant in Philadelphia.
But it was the same recipe. Master Chef Marshall Jr. of the Drake Hotel's Cape Cod Room and Camellia House Restaurants said he "I tried unsuccessfully to wangle the recipe from the owner of Bookbinders. I got it, tho, by taking the chef out for a drink!"
Bookbinder's soup was a staple at the Drake Hotel's Cape Cod Room which closed for good on December 31, 2016. Following is the recipe as provided by the Master Chef of the Drake Hotel:
BOOKBINDER'S SNAPPING TURTLE OR RED SNAPPER SOUP RECIPE
Following are two sets of ingredients with respective preparations. Note, the directions are written verbatim, per the Cape Cod Room. (Makes 15 cups or about 8 average bowls)
INGREDIENTS, PART 1.
- 1 cup celery
- 1 cup carrots
- 1/4 cup red peppers
- 1/4 cup green peppers
- 1 1/2 cup onions
- 1 garlic clove
- 3 quarts strong vegetable stock
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup tomato puree
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon chicken base
- 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 1/2 cup dry sherry
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 tablespoon crushed black pepper
- 1/2 tablespoon fresh cilantro
- 1 stalk rosemary
- 4 drops caramel color
- 3/4 cup flour & 3/4 cup OR 1 1/2 sticks of butter for a roux
PREPARATION PART 1:
- Dice vegetables and saute in olive oil over moderate heat.
- Add tomato puree, tomato paste, and liquids and simmer over moderate heat.
- Add seasonings.
- Create a roux with flour and butter.
- Add caramel color, garlic, and salt.
- Mix with the vegetables/broth and cook for 2 hours in a big stockpot.
- Strain through a medium 1/6-inch China Cap or a medium strainer.
INGREDIENTS PART 2:
- 1 1/2 cup diced white onion
- 1 1/2 cup diced celery
- 1 lb. Snapping Turtle meat or Red Snapper fillets
PREPARATION PART 2:
- Steam or cook items separately.
- Coarsely chopped snapper turtle meat, or flake up red snapper after it has been cooked and add to stock.
- Adjust seasoning
Serve with a shot of fine dry Sherry per bowl, or a cruet of sherry on the side for cups of soup.
Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.