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Philadelphia Snapper Soup

2 1/2 pounds snapping-turtle meat, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 1/2 c flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound lean salt pork, trimmed of rind, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 c finely chopped onions

1/2 c finely chopped celery
1/2 c finely chopped carrot
1 tsp finely chopped garlic
1 quart beef stock, fresh or canned
2 T tomato paste
1 medium-sized bay leaf, finely crumbled
1/2 tsp crumbled dried thyme
1 c water (optional)
2 T dry Madeira

Pat the snapper meat completely dry with paper towels. Then combine
the flour, salt and pepper in a paper bag, add the snapper pieces
and shake vigorously to coat all sides evenly. Remove the meat from
the bag and, one piece at a time, shake off the excess flour.

In a heavy 4- to 5-quart casserole, fry the pork dice over moderate
heat until it is crisp and brown and has rendered all its fat.
Transfer the dice to paper towels to drain. Brown the snapper 4 or
5 pieces at a time in the fat remaining in the pan. Turn the pieces
frequently with a slotted spoon and regulate the heat so that they
color richly and evenly without burning. As they brown, transfer
them to a plate.

Pour off all but about 3 T of the fat from the pan and add the
onions, celery, carrot and garlic. Stir over moderate heat until
the vegetables are soft but not brown. Stir in the beef stock,
tomato paste, bay leaf, thyme and reserved pork bits. Bring to a
boil over high heat and add the snapper and the liquid that has
accumulated around it.

Reduce the heat to low and simmer partially covered for 2 hours,
or until the snapper is tender and shows no resistance when pierced
with the point of a small, sharp knife. Check the pan from time to
time and regulate the heat to keep the soup at a gentle simmer.
Add up to 1 cup of water if the liquid cooks away too rapidly.

Stir in the Madeira, taste for seasoning, and serve the snapper
soup from a heated tureen. Serves 6 to 8.

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