This section is from the book "Mrs. Allen's Cook Book", by Mrs. Ida C. Bailey Allen. See also: The Conscious Cook: Delicious Meatless Recipes That Will Change the Way You Eat.
The making of a cream soup may be an arduous task, or but the work of a few moments. If one starts every time with raw materials, cream soups will be events, rather than everyday occurrences. But it is, after all, but a step from white sauce to cream soup. The latter is made up of a combination of white sauce, with half the quantity of vegetable puree, that is, sifted, cooked vegetable pulp, plus a little of the vegetable liquid, water, or soup stock. Occasionally, cream soups are made which contain finely minced veal, chicken, cooked chestnuts, or fish, instead of a vegetable.
There is no greater aid to forehandedness in the kitchen than to cook part of the food one day for the next; in preparing vegetables, for instance, enough may always be prepared so that there will be some on hand for a cream soup for the next day's luncheon. Nearly all vegetables, even pumpkin and squash, may be used in this way. Some of the liquor in which they are cooked should always be reserved, if possible. But if it is not, a little water may be added, together with the desired seasonings, and the whole sifted and combined with the right amount of cream sauce, made in the proportion of one tablespoonful of butter, one tablespoonful of flour, one-third teaspoonful of salt, one-eighth teaspoonful of pepper, and one cupful of milk.
The usual allowance of soup for each person is a scant three-fourth's cupful. With this general proportion it is an easy matter to calculate the amount needed for any number of people. In many cases the left-over vegetables will be improved by twenty minutes further cooking in water or their own liquor, since in order to make really good cream soup they must be so soft that they will pass easily through a sieve. However, in making cream of asparagus, or celery soup, very little of the pulp can be rubbed through, as it is so fibrous. In many cases it is possible to prepare the vegetable stock for a cream soup two days before it is to be used, provided, of course, that there is a cool place in which to keep it. There may be on hand the tips from a bunch of celery, the outer leaves from a head of lettuce, or the tough ends from a bunch of asparagus. Any one of these will form the vegetable foundation for a cream soup, but possibly this will not fit into the next day's menu. In this case they should be cooked until tender, a little salt added to the liquor, strained, poured into a glass jar, covered and used later. Many a valuable bit of food is given to the chickens, or finds its way into the garbage can, just because one fails to look ahead.
Properly speaking, cream soups should always contain sifted vegetables, meats or fish, but they are more "filling," if occasionally the vegetable is chopped fine, or put through the food chopper, and allowed to remain in the soup, as with onions, watercress, green corn, or spinach. This should not be done, however, if the soup is to be the first course of a well-conducted meal, while peas and lima beans must always be sifted, as, otherwise, the flavor will not be propery distributed. Corn starch or arrowroot, as well as tapioca, may be used to thicken cream soups, although flour gives the most satisfactory flavor. In using the two former, the same method in making the white sauce may be followed as with the flour, but if tapioca is used it should be allowed to cook in a double boiler with the milk until clear, the length of time depending upon whether the old-fashioned pearl or quick-cooking tapioca is used. The proper proportion is one tablespoonful of pearl tapioca or one-half tablespoonful of quick tapioca to each cupful of soup. In case it is advisable to enrich the soup, it may be poured upon beaten egg yolks, or slightly-beaten eggs. If these are to act as thickening agents the soup should be placed in a double boiler, returned to the heat, and stirred for two or three minutes. In using canned vegetables for soupmaking the liquor should be discarded, whenever possible, as this may impart a "canned" taste to the soup, but it should be replaced by the same amount of water. If the milk is a little old, also in case of tomatoes and asparagus, a few grains of baking soda should be added to the cooked vegetables before combining with the white sauce. A small amount of cream, or undiluted evaporated milk, may be added for richness. Croutons, toasted crackers, hot, buttered toast-sticks of either graham or white bread, heated whole wheat.or oatmeal crackers and pulled bread are all suitable accompaniments to a cream soup. Occasionally it is advisable to add a little extra fat to the menu, and this may be done in the form of a whipped cream garnish for the soup.