Fishing with Eli and Some Terrapin Soup

New Soup Mug


Hello and welcome to the blog today!  That new soup mug was acquired yesterday at Target.  It had me laughing.  The plan was to make some soup anyway.  Thank you to “H”, a blog friend, for a donation that bought the mug and will buy some other accessories in the coming days.   I love homemade soups and this mug will surely see plenty of use!

Eli, one of the kids from work.


On Wednesday I went fishing in Anamosa just above the dam.  Elijah (Eli) was there after work; he fishes the Wapsi river almost every day.  I ran into some other kids – all sons of local friends – and had a fun time hanging out with them.  That’s the nice thing about a small town.  We all know each other and the angling fun is safe in this area.  I had given Eli some old freezer-burned trout and we cut it up for catfish bait.  I didn’t catch a thing but Eli hooked this softshell turtle.  In the meantime, a couple of the other kids caught some catfish on chicken liver.


The spiny softshell turtle.. the most common variety in Iowa.  The spines on the front of the shell are where it gets its name.


When I got home Jenny was intrigued with the turtle.  Before processing it, the turtle sat in the yard.  Jenny got close and when the head came out she leaped backwards, then approached the terrapin while reaching out like she intended to slap it.  For the size of the critter, it yielded a decent amount of meat… enough for several meals’ worth of soup.


Below the dam in Anamosa…


Turtles take some cleaning but the meat is very tasty.  You hear it said that there are seven kinds of meat.  While I don’t know if that is true, there are light and dark meats, as well as other flesh that has different consistencies and flavors.  The biggest thing is to get the meat soaking in cold salt water for a couple of days (in the fridge, of course) and keep changing the water until it is clear.


Turtle Soup (and some “Crown”) … a dinner fit for a king.


The soup was an improvisation and turned out really tasty.  It used 3 Tablespoons of crumbled bacon, 1 small bag of frozen “seasoning blend veggies”, 32 oz. of chicken broth, and 1 cup of half-and-half.  The turtle meat (primarily legs) was simmered (toenails and all!) for about 20 minutes in the broth.  Then the flesh was removed and deboned.  Adding the meat back in, I cooked it another 15 minutes, later mixing in a cup of half-and-half, pepper, garlic salt, and a couple teaspoons of Wondra flour to thicken it up.  Towards the last 5 minutes of cooking I added a half bag of commercial “Prosciutto and cheese” tortelloni.  The final ingredient was a bit of fresh chopped cilantro.  I plan to make it again!

After a nice big bowl of comforting soup, the remainder was frozen for a cold winter’s day.


“Watch out for those guys on the bridge… especially the big one with the Diet Coke!”

It’s been a busy and fun week.  On Wednesday the new owners took over the store where I am working and the pay increased by $1.75 / hour.  We’re all pretty happy about that!

Next week I’ve got an appointment after work.  Following that I’m thinking about camping near Cedar Rapids at a place not visited since Dad died in 2013.  We’ll see how those plans go.  But in the meantime, there will surely be more trips to the dam in search of more turtles!

Take care and thanks for visiting!  Safe and happy camping!

Brad and Jenny and Duke
Jones County, Iowa

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About VanTrekker

I am a former vandweller in Eastern Iowa who, for several years (off and on), lived in a 2007 Chevy cargo van. I still travel around Iowa with my tortoise shell cat, Jennifer Stefanie. Our favorite place to explore is the Country Heritage Community, the four far northeastern counties of Iowa (Clayton, Winneshiek, Allamakee, and Fayette). Ride along as we fish in pristine trout streams, enjoy fine home cooked camping meals, and meet new people. It's all possible on a shoestring budget. Happy travels always! --- Brad, the "Van Trekker"

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