Diamondback Terrapin Stew, Chesapeake Bay Style

Total Time
2hrs 20mins
Prep 20 mins
Cook 2 hrs

Turtle soup or stew is no longer a popular item on today's menus, but it once graced the tables of the rich and powerful. The diamondback terrapin was considered a delicacy to eat and hunted almost to extinction. Due to this, it is listed as an endangered species in Rhode Island; considered a threatened species in Massachusetts; is considered a "species of concern" in Georgia, Delaware, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Virginia, but it holds no federal status. If you cannot source turtle meat, feel free to substitute chicken. This historic recipe comes from the Southern chapter of the United States Regional Cookbook, Culinary Arts Institute of Chicago, 1947. Cooking time is approximate.

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Drop live terrapin into boiling water and let stand for 5 minutes.
  2. Remove from water; rub skin off feet, tail and head with a towel, drawing the head out with a skewer.
  3. Clip off claws.
  4. Scrub shell with boiling water; break apart with a cleaver or axe.
  5. Remove meat and liver.
  6. Discard heart, sandbag, entrails and gall bladder (taking caution not to break it as it's bitter).
  7. Cut the liver in thin slices.
  8. Take out eggs, remove film and set aside in cold water.
  9. Mash yolks of eggs; add flour, nutmeg, lemon juice and rind.
  10. Stir in 1 cup of soup stock.
  11. Add onion, celery, terrapin and terrapin eggs and enough more stock to cover meat.
  12. Cook in double boiler until meat falls from bones.
  13. Remove bones, add worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, chopped egg whites, cream, sherry and milk (if necessary).
  14. Heat thoroughly and serve with toast.