Beaver Tail Soup

Here is a recipe and extract from The Hungry Cyclist Pedalling The Americas In search of the Perfect Meal. 

    'Like after any good museum visit, I found myself in the shop browsing for postcards, novelty pens, key fobs, moccasins and dream catchers, but to my excitement I also discovered a traditional Ojibwa recipe book. Until now the only regional dish I had found that Ontarians were at all proud of was poutine, a clumsy French bastardisation, consisting of a heap of greasy chips, topped with lumpy gravy and some rubbery cheese curds, normally sold from the hatch of a converted ambulance and served on a flimsy polystyrene platter. It had all the charm and sophistication of a late-night kebab. So to browse recipes of such exotic treats as beaver tail soup, boiled moose nose, white fish livers and manoomin (wild rice) was an exhilarating experience. As I left, the kind woman who sold me the book called after me to tell me that the Sagamok Anishinabek annual traditional pow-wow was being held at the weekend, and if I was lucky I might well be able to taste some of this traditional native fare.'

    Serves 6

  • bones and tail from 1 beaver 
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 large onions, sliced 
  • 3 bay leaves 
  • 2 large carrots, chopped 
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped 
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  • to garnish: sprigs of fresh mint 

1. First you need to remove the tough skin from the beaver tail. This is done by broiling the tail over an open flame until the scaly skin peels off in one blistered sheet. This will reveal the tasty white meat underneath. Cut the tail meat into chunks. 

2. Place the bones and pieces of tail in a large deep pan, cover with water (at least 2 litres), add a teaspoon of salt and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, keeping the surface clean with a large spoon. 

3. Add the onions, bay leaves, carrots, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and keep simmering for a further 30 minutes. 

4. With a large spoon, remove the chunks of beaver tail from the pan and leave to drain on a plate. Don’t worry: these will be added back to the soup later. Carefully strain the remaining soup through a sieve into another large pan, being sure to remove any bits of bone. Now continue to boil until the soup reduces to roughly half of its original volume. 

5. While the soup is reducing, cut the tail meat into bite-size chunks and add to the soup. Serve hot, making sure everyone gets some chunky bits of beaver in their bowl, and garnish with a few sprigs of fresh mint.


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