Non-Endangered Soup

There's little chance that the turtle soup ($7.50) at Brennan's (3300 Smith, 713-522-9711) will lose its revered spot on the menu, considering it's the restaurant's most popular dish. The soup offers a complex series of tastes, painstakingly constructed, layer upon layer, by chef Carl Walker. At its base, there's a wonderfully rich veal stock into which the slowly simmered holy trinity of onion, celery and bell pepper has been added, along with tomato puree and a blend of traditional seafood seasonings such as thyme, bay and garlic. You'll also taste a hearty roux, plus tiny macerated pieces of meat from freshwater turtles (the snapping kind, not the endangered sea kind). Shredded spinach and a hard-boiled egg add texture, and a good douse of sherry is splashed on the top, tableside, as a finishing flavor.

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Paul Galvani