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Bookbinders Soup-No Bookbinders Required

SnapperSoupGoogling for something entirely different, we came upon the words “Bookbinders Soup.” Well, that was arresting.  It was with a mix of relief and disappointment that we learned no bookbinders are harmed in the making of this soup: the name comes from Bookbinders Restaurant in Philadelphia, where it was originally served. Confusingly, if you go to Old Original Bookbinders Restaurant the soup will be listed as “snapper soup.” It is only other restaurants that call it Bookbinders Soup in deference to its place of origin. Old Original Bookbinders Restaurant (now The Olde Bar at Bookbinders) was started in 1898 by Samuel Bookbinder, a Dutch immigrant. We may assume that there were bookbinders in his family tree, but have been unable to discover them. Still, a soup which has been celebrated for over 100 years must be worth trying, whatever its antecedents. This version of Bookbinders Soup comes from






  1. Place turtle or beef in stock pot with 1 1/2 quarts water. Bring to a boil. Skim during cooking. Simmer for 2 hours or until meat is tender.
  2. Strain meat from stock. Dice meat into 1/4 inch pieces. Set both aside.
  3. Cook vegetables in butter until onions are translucent. Add beef stock.
  4. In a small bowl, mix 1/4 cup water into paprika and flour until smooth. Add tomato purée and spices.
  5. Stir into beef stock until well blended. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer for 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
  6. Strain soup.
  7. Place vegetables into food processor or blender and purée.
  8. Mix cornstarch with remaining water and blend until smooth. Add to soup and cook 15 minutes, stirring, until stock is thickened.
  9. Add meat and vegetable purée.
  10. Remove from direct heat. Add sherry right before serving.