Well, it finally happened. J found a soft-shell turtle at a Chinese seafood market and we cooked it.
Heebie jeebies aside, soft-shell turtle really does have the texture of chicken, but with a lot more sharp little bones and a sweeter flavor. I'm not sure it's different enough to compell me to pay $11/lb for it on a regular basis, but it was a tasty soup.
J didn't remember exactly what his friend's grandfather put in his recipe, so we stopped by a Chinese herb shop and asked the saleswoman what people usually cook with soft-shell turtle. She made us a great herb packet for under $5, and it included two of my favorites: dried mountain yam and foxnuts. I don't know too much about the other herbs, their names, or their supposed healing qualities. But I do really like Chinese medicinal soups. I'm going to have to remember to cook them more regularly: with chicken or short ribs!