The art of preparing good, wholesome, palatable soups, without great expense, which is so well understood in France, and in other countries where they form part of the daily food of all classes of the people, has hitherto been very much neglected in England and America: it is one, therefore, to which we would particularly direct the attention of the cook, who will find, we think, on a careful perusal of the present chapter, that it presents no difficulties which a common degree of care and skill will not easily overcome. The reader, who may be desirous to excel in it, should study the instructions given under the article Bouillon, where the principles of this branch of cookery are fully explained.
The spices and other condiments used to give flavour to soups and gravies should be so nicely proportioned that none predominate nor overpower the rest; and this delicate blending of savours is perhaps the most difficult part of a cook's task: it is an art, moreover, not easily acquired, except by long experience, unless great attention be combined with some natural refinement of the palate.
A zealous servant will take all possible pains on her first entrance into a family, to ascertain the particular tastes of the individuals she serves; and will be guided entirely by them in the preparation of her dishes, however much they may be opposed to her own ideas, or to her previous practice.
Exceeding cleanliness, both in her personal habits and appearance, and in every department of her work, is so essential in a cook, that no degree of skill, nor any other good qualities which she may possess, can ever atone for the want of it. The very idea of a dirty cook is so revolting, that few people will be induced to tolerate the reality; and we would therefore most strongly urge all* employed in the culinary department of a household, who may be anxious for their own success in life, or solicitous to obtain the respect and approbation of their employers, to strive to the utmost against any tendency to slovenliness of which they may be conscious, or which may be pointed out to them by others.
* An active, cleanly, and attentive kitchen-maid will generally become an admirable cook.
Modern Copper Soup or Stock-Pot.