Consommé, or Stock, forms the basis of all meat soup recipes, and it is, therefore, essential to know the best way of extracting the best possible stock or broth from a certain piece of meat.
Fresh, uncooked beef makes the best stock for soup recipes, with the addition of cracked bones, as the glutinous matter contained in them makes it important that they should be boiled with the meat, which adds to the strength and thickness of the soup.
Two ounces of cracked bones contain as much gelatin as one pound of meat. When there is a lot of gelatin in the bones it causes the stock, when cold, to become a jelly. The flesh of old animals contains more flavor than the flesh of young ones. Brown meats contain more flavor than white.
Mutton is too strong in flavor for making a good stock, while veal, although quite glutinous, doesn't give you a lot of nutrition.
Some cooks use meat in their soup recipes that has already been cooked. This doesn't give one a lot of nourishment and it also destroys the flavor. It might answer for ready soup, but for stock to keep it is not as good, unless you use roasted meats. When you put the remains of roast meats in the stock-pot you get a better flavor.
The shin bone is generally used for meat soup recipes, but the neck contains more of the substance that you want to extract, makes a stronger and more nutritious soup, than any other part of the animal.
Meats for soup recipes should always be put on to cook in cold water, in a covered pot, and allowed to simmer slowly for several hours to draw out the flavors of the meat. It should be carefully skimmed to prevent it from becoming cloudy, never allowed to boil fast at any time, and if more water is needed, use boiling water from the kettle; cold or lukewarm water spoils the flavor.
Never salt your soup before the meat is tender (as that hardens and toughens the meat), especially if the meat is to be eaten. Take off every particle of scum as it rises, and before the vegetables are put in.
Allow a little less than a quart of water to a pound of meat and bone, and a teaspoonful of salt. When done, strain through a colander. If for clear soups, strain again through a jelly bag, or fold a clean towel in a colander set over an earthen bowl, or any dish large enough to hold the stock.
As stated before, stock is not as good when made entirely from cooked meats, but in a family where it requires a large joint roasted every day, the bones, and bits and underdone pieces of beef, or the bony structure of turkey or chicken that has been left from carving, bones of roasted poultry, these all assist in imparting a rich dark color to soup, and would be sufficient, if stewed as above, to help a family, without buying fresh meat for the purpose; still, with the addition of a little fresh meat it would be more nutritious. In cold weather you can gather them up for several days and put them to cook in cold water, and when done, strain, and put aside until needed.
Before heating a second time, remove all the fat from the top. If this be melted in, the flavor of the soup will certainly be spoiled.
Thickened soups require nearly double the seasoning used for thin soups or broth.
Coloring is used in some brown soups, the chief of which is brown burnt sugar, which is known as caramel by French cooks and often used in commercial soup recipes.
Pounded spinach leaves give a fine green color to soup. Parsley, or the green leaves of celery put in soup, will serve instead of spinach.
Pound a large handful of spinach in a mortar, then tie it in a cloth, and wring out all the juice; put this in the soup you wish to color green five minutes before taking it up.
Mock turtle, and sometimes veal and lamb soups, should be this color.
Okras gives a green color to soup.
To color soup red, skin six red tomatoes, squeeze out the seeds, and put them into the soup with the other vegetables—or take the juice only, as directed for spinach.
For white soups, which are of veal, lamb or chicken, none but white vegetables are used; rice, pearl barley, vermicelli, or macaroni, for thickening.
Grated carrot gives a fine amber color to soup; it must be put in as soon as the soup is free from scum.
Hotel and private-house stock is quite different.
Hotels use meat in such large quantities that there is always more or less trimmings and bones of meat to add to fresh meats; that makes very strong stock, which they use in most all soups and gravies and other made dishes.
The meat from which soup has been made is good to serve cold. Take out all the bones, season with pepper and salt, and catchup, if liked, then chop it small, tie it in a cloth, and lay it between two plates, with a weight on the upper one; slice it thin for luncheon or supper; or make sandwiches of it; or make a hash for breakfast; or make it into balls, with the addition of a little wheat flour and an egg, and serve them fried in fat, or boil in the soup.
An agreeable flavor is sometimes imparted to soup by sticking some cloves into the meat used for making stock; a few slices of onions fried very brown in butter are nice; also flour browned by simply putting it into a saucepan over the fire and stirring it constantly until it is a dark brown.
Clear soups must be perfectly transparent, and thickened soups about the consistency of cream. When soups and gravies are kept from day to day in hot weather, they should be warmed up every day, and put into fresh-scalded pans or tureens, and placed in a cool cellar. In temperate weather, every other day may be sufficient.
Six pounds of shin of beef, or six pounds of knuckle of veal; any bones, trimmings of poultry, or fresh meat; one-quarter pound of lean bacon or ham, two ounces of butter, two large onions, each stuck with cloves; one turnip, three carrots, one head of celery, two ounces of salt, one-half teaspoonful of whole pepper, one large blade of mace, one bunch of savory herbs except sage, four quarts and one-half-pint of cold water.
Cut up the meat and bacon, or ham, into pieces of about three inches square; break the bones into small pieces, rub the butter on the bottom of the stew pan; put in one-half a pint of water, the broken bones, then meat and all other ingredients. Cover the stew pan, and place it on a high heat, occasionally stirring its contents.
When the bottom of the pan becomes covered with a pale, jelly-like substance, add the four quarts of cold water, and simmer very gently for five or six hours. As we have said before, do not let it boil quickly. When nearly cooked, throw in a tablespoonful of salt to assist the scum to rise. Remove every particle of scum whilst it is doing, and strain it through a jelly bag; when cool remove all grease. This stock will keep for many days in cold weather.
Stock is the basis of many of the soups afterwards mentioned, and this will be found quite strong enough for ordinary purposes.
Keep it in small jars, in a cool place. It makes a good gravy for hash meats; one tablespoonful of it is sufficient to impart a fine flavor to a dish of macaroni and various other dishes.
Good soups of various kinds are made from it at short notice; slice off a portion of the jelly, add water, and whatever vegetables and thickening preferred.
It is best to partly cook the vegetables before adding to the stock, as a lot boiling destroys the flavor of the soup. Season and boil a few moments and serve hot.