Duck Soup

A beloved, warming recipe passed down through three generations of family


Chris Martin has a mission. “I’m always pushing back when I hear someone say that you can’t make a great dish out of redheads and other diving ducks,” says the owner of Bay Flats Lodge. His lodge sits on San Antonio Bay, a hot spot for the migrating red-head ducks that swarm the Texas coast in winter. Unlike puddle ducks such as mallards that feed in shallow waters, diving ducks thrive on underwater vegetation and prey, leading to a reputation that they’re not as tasty. “But all ducks are really good,” Martin insists, “and we don’t waste anything here.”

Located near one hundred thousand acres of protected wildlife preserve, Bay Flats Lodge sits in the crosshairs of some of the best saltwater fishing and waterfowling in the country. Guests can go all in on a waterfowl quest—redheads are one of various species of ducks that use the bay—or mix it up with airboat rides to remote marsh flats to cast for redfish and trout. No matter the schedule, guests filtering back to the lodge are greeted by the rich aroma of Martin’s duck soup, a beloved family recipe. He remembers his grand-mother making the soup, and then his mother. “We’ve tweaked it for twenty-five years,” he figures. One of the most significant changes: adding salt pork, which helps bind all the flavors. Also key is the real-deal duck stock. “The stock, the vegetables, and the meat—it’s like a holy trinity,” he says. “It only works when you put them all together.”


  • DUCK SOUP (Yield: 6 servings)

  • For the stock

    • 5 lb. duck parts (such as neck and carcass)

    • 2 large onions, coarsely chopped

    • 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped

    • 2 lb. celery stalks with leaves, coarsely chopped

    • 1 bunch parsley with stems, chopped

    • 1 bay leaf

    • ½ tsp. salt

  • For the soup

    • 6 duck breast fillets, cut in ¼-inch to ½-inch cubes

    • 6 oz. salt pork, cut in ¼-inch to ½-inch cubes

    • ¼ cup olive oil Duck stock (recipe above)

    • 6 medium-sized carrots, cut in ¼-inch slices

    • 3 medium-sized celery stalks, cut in ¼-inch slices

    • 1 (15¼ oz.) can sweet white corn

    • 2 (14½ oz.) cans green beans

    • 2 to 3 red potatoes (preferably skin on)

    • 1½ tsp. cayenne pepper

    • 1½ tsp. black pepper

    • 1 (7 oz.) packet Zatarain’s gumbo mix

    • ½ cup uncooked long-grain wild rice


  1. For the stock: Wash duck parts well and place in a large stockpot. Add cold water to cover by 2 inches and bring to boil. Skim all froth from the surface. Lower heat and add the other stock ingredients. Simmer uncovered for 3 hours. Add water as needed to cover ingredients and skim as necessary. Strain the stock into a large bowl through a colander lined with a double layer of dampened cheesecloth. Press solids to extract all liquid.

  2. For the soup: Heat olive oil in a large pan on medium-high. Add cubed duck and salt pork, and cook until meat turns brown. Drain oil and move the meat to a slow cooker. Add duck stock to cover completely. Add all vegetables and the potatoes, then add cayenne pepper, black pepper, and gumbo mix. Add uncooked wild rice and cook on high for 4 hours.