Veganizing TV Classics Lorelai "Trix" Gilmore's (Mock) Mock Turtle Soup Randi Milgram

You’ll be glad you made it Mock Mock, I promise.

So, we all remember the time on our beloved Gilmore Girls when Richard Gilmore, that stodgy and strict master of all things ceremonious, actually seemed like a human being, complete with all the feelings: when his bitchtastic mother, Lorelai (or ‘Trix’) died. We felt so badly for poor Richard, didn’t we? He was trapped in a glass cage of emotion, and all he wanted was Turtleneck Soup. No problem, right? When someone is in mourning, you give them what they want, especially if it’s something as innocuous as soup. Bring on the Turtleneck Soup!

Only one problem: What the $%&# is Turtleneck Soup? Nobody knew! And you couldn’t exactly ask the man knee-deep in sorrow for details. Lorelai (the second, not the deceased) needed to consult her team at the Independence Inn to figure out what to feed her father:

LORELAI: Mom, have you looked on the internet?

EMILY: For what?

LORELAI: For turtleneck soup. You could Google it.

EMILY: Can I? Can I Google it?

LORELAI: Okay, never mind. Sookie, do you have any idea what turtleneck soup could be?

EMILY: You mean mock turtle soup?

LORELAI: Mom, do you think he means “mock turtle soup?”

EMILY: Maybe that’s what he said. Is there such a thing?

LORELAI: I think so. [to Sookie] Can you make mock turtle soup?

SOOKIE: I never tried, but I think I have a recipe for it somewhere here.

LORELAI: So, Mom, Sookie’s tracking down the soup. What else can I do?

EMILY: Nothing. If you can find the soup, that’ll be enough.

I found the soup, Emily! And I made it! And lo, it was delicious. Finally, I think I’ve done something Emily Gilmore would be proud of. Well, maybe not proud of (that’s not her thing), but maybe she’d be pleased? Okay, okay, that’s not her thing either. Fine, maybe this soup would be satisfactory enough to keep her from throwing a boiling pot of it onto her current maid. I’ll take it!

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Boil that water down

So I know a lot of you are still skeptical of vegan food, and I get it – it’s got some unknown ingredients, it’s not what you grew up eating, it’s out of your comfort zone, whatever, I can understand being a little wary. But, I must say, of all the foods I’ve ever veganized – hell, of all the food in the world – this is the one you really want to veganize. I can understand if you used regular cream instead of cashew cream in my mulligatawny, or if you used regular cheese pizza to make my Cheesy Blasters. But for this soup, I’ve done a veritable public service providing a mock version of Mock Turtle Soup. Why am I so sure that THIS recipe is the one you gotta veganize?

BECAUSE THE REAL THING IS REVOLTING. And not in the cool sense of the word that “Matilda: The Musical” plays on in the song “Revolting Children” (meaning the children are starting to fight back) (actually, the authentic Mock Turtle Soup probably would fight back . . . ); I mean it in the sense that it would make you vomit:

From Wikipedia

Mock turtle soup is an English soup that was created in the mid-18th century as a cheaper imitation of green turtle soup. It often uses brains and organ meats such as calf’s head or a calf’s foot to duplicate the texture and flavour of the original’s turtle meat.

EW! Disgusting! Brains and feet? England, what is wrong with your foods?!

It gets worse. There’s an old (“olde”) recipe:

 “Take a large calf’s head. Scald off the hair. Boil it until the horn is tender, then cut it into slices. . .” 

Scald off the hair?! THE HORN?? Dude, that’s enough. I have to go throw up now.

I’m back. Now you understand why, of all the foods, the vegan version of this dish is the way to go. Any food that requires one to “scald off the hair” was not meant for human consumption. Jeez can you imagine what parts of the turtle they eat in regular turtle soup? I don’t want to. Oh Richard, your mother made disgusting scalp and feet soup. Let’s all, um, not do that.

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Mm, food meant for humans.

But, our creation does have to be a decent facsimile. I know a lot of vegans compare the texture of homemade seitan to brains (with what authority, I don’t know), but crumbled tempeh just looks the part so much more. Also, I added kidney beans, because the original calls for organ meats. Get it? Kidney beans? Organ meats?

VEGAN MOCK MOCK TURTLE SOUP

notes: vegan, gluten-free option, animal-hair-free, brain-free

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1T olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1t salt
  • 1t paprika
  • 2t cayenne pepper
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • 1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 1C carrots, diced
  • 2-3C water
  • 1 (15 oz.) can kidney beans
  • 3T fresh lemon juice (juice from half of a (juicy) lemon)

FOR THE TEMPEH:

  • 1 (8 oz.) package tempeh
  • 1T soy sauce

FOR THE ROUX:

  • 1/2 cup chickpea flour (can use regular, but chickpea flour gives a deeper flavor)
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)

DIRECTIONS:

First, let’s make the tempeh. To get rid of the bitterness associated with tempeh, it helps tremendously to cook it first, separately, and then use it in your recipes.

1. Crumble your tempeh into a small sauce pan. Pour in water until the tempeh is just about covered, and add the tablespoon of soy sauce. Bring to a boil, boil for 2 minutes, then lower to a simmer and cover. In about 10-15 minutes, the water should be absorbed and your tempeh should be debitterized. Set aside.

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What do we want? BRAINS! When do we want them? BRAINS!

Next, for the soup:

2.  While your tempeh is simmering, add your onion and olive oil to a large stock pot, over medium high heat. Sauté for 5 minutes.

3. Add your garlic and sauté for another 2 minutes.

4. Add your spices and bay leaves, and stir for another minute.

5. Add your tomatoes. Refill your tomato can about halfway with water and pour that in too.

6. Add your kidney beans and carrots.

7. Bring the mixture to a boil, and let cook at a low boil while you make the roux.

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Post-soy brains and organ beans, pre-roux addition

For the roux:

8. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and chickpea flour together, stirring constantly, over medium-high heat. Stir and cook for about 10 minutes, making sure not to let it burn (if you suspect burning, turn your heat down a bit).

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The roux run run run the roux run run

Back at the ranch:

9. Add your tempeh to the soup, stir through.

10. Add the roux and stir through. It should thicken the soup quite a bit.

11. Let cook for another 5 minutes, then turn off the heat and add your lemon juice.

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Properly thickened & delicious brain soup

VOILA! This was really delicious, especially since there were no brains. I think this would have bolstered Richard’s spirits a tad. It is hella spicy and rich, perfect for this current cold weather, or for dealing with a cold wife like Emily. Enjoy!

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I don’t even try anymore with my soup pictures. All of my soups are orangey and virtually unphotographable. I kind of love it.

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