Examining the Origins of Turtle Soup

Ser Seng Herbs (Turtle) Rest

Turtle soup is largely considered as a dish that has passed out of the memory of the masses. With ethical issues such as the risk of an imminent extinction of various turtle species, the dish has almost been deemed as taboo if not for the historical value that has been associated with it. We all can understand why even the best turtle soup has now been boiled down as a delicacy that has its’ costs, but do we understand why and how turtle soup came to be?

History of Turtle Meat

The origins of turtle meat can be traced back to the Age of Exploration, which began in the 15th century and spanned up to the 17th century. Turtle meat became a staple of Caribbean cuisine thanks to the European sailors, who discovered large numbers of sea turtles being sold in markets in the West Indies. Not only that, but sailors also discovered that turtle meat can become a much needed emergency food supply during expeditions due to their ability to survive months without saltwater.

This popularity catapulted when it caught the attention of the British royalty. In the early 1700s, common folks could not access turtle meat due to its high prices, but after European settlers arrived in America, people were able to access it through substituting soup recipes with small, wild turtles and tortoises.

History of Turtle Soup

The ones who brought the knowledge of eating turtles to the forefront of the colonial world’s attention are the British, who brought forth their love for turtle soup across the globe as they expanded their empire. They shifted the “West India Way” to the “English” way, so much so that cooks in China were taught to cook turtle meat in the “English style.” Scholars claim that turtle soup became synonymous with deliciousness in English literature back then.

Soon after turtle soup became more accessible to the wide public in the form of canned turtle soup (which featured a mock form of turtle soup), various recipes of turtle soup began to emerge around the world. The Chinese brought the recipes all the way to Singapore where it’s currently one of the most well-known dishes that tourists are keen to taste whenever they chance upon it.

Admittedly, it was a long way for the best turtle soup to reach the land presently known as Singapore. Currently, the small country is one of the few places where the selling of delicious cuisine consisting of turtle soup is still legal. But with the many restaurants selling this delicacy, how do you know which is the best turtle soup?


It’s tough to say which turtle soup in Singapore is really the best. But not to worry; with its long-written history, the fame of turtle soup in this small country is one not to be trifled with, which means there are plenty of options to try out! Our personal recommendation would be the turtle soup served at Tai Thong Crescent street,  at Ser Seng Turtle Soup restaurant!

Ser Seng Herbs (Turtle) Rest
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