Consomme, or Stock, forms the basis of all meat soups, and also of all principal sauces. It is, therefore, essential to the success of these culinary operations to know the most complete and economical method of extracting from a certain quantity of meat the best possible stock or broth. Fresh, uncooked beef makes the best stock, with the addition of cracked bones, as the glutinous matter contained in them renders it important that they should be boiled with the meat, which adds to the strength and thickness of the soup. They are composed of an earthy substance - to which they owe their solidity - of gelatine, and a fatty fluid, something like marrow. Two ounces of them contain as much gelatine as one pound of meat; but, in them, this is so encased in the earthy substance, that boiling water can dissolve only the surface of the whole bones, but by breaking them they can be dissolved more. When there is an abundance of it, 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 good stock, while veal, although quite glutinous, furnishes very little nutriment.
Some cooks use meat that has once been cooked; this renders little nourishment and destroys the flavor. It might answer for ready soup, but for stock to keep it is not as good, unless it should be roasted meats. Those contain higher fragrant properties; so by putting the remains of roast meats in the stock-pot you obtain a better flavor. The shin bone is generally used, but the neck or "sticking-piece," as the butchers call it, 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 should always be put on to cook in cold water, in a covered pot, and allowed to simmer slowly for several hours, in order that the essence of the meat may be drawn out thoh oughly, and should be carefully skimmed to prevent it from becom ing turbid, never allowed to toil fast at any time, and if more water is needed, use boiling water from the tea-kettle; cold or lukewarm water spoils the flavor. Never salt it 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 hair sieve, 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 under-done 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 furnish 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.
Soup will be as good the second day as the first if heated to the boil-ing point. It should never be left in the pot, but should be turned into a dish or shallow pan, and set aside to get cold. Never cover it up, as that will cause it to turn sour very quickly.
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.
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 quanities 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 thus: Take out all the bones, season with pepper and salt, and catsup, 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.
Of vegetables the principal ones are carrots, tomatoes, asparagus, green peas, okra, macaroni, green corn, beans, rice, vermicelli, Scotch barley, pearl barley, wheat flour, mushroom, or mushroom catsup, parsnips, beetroot, turnips, leeks, garlic, shallots and onions; sliced onions fried with butter and flour until they are browned, then rubbed through a sieve, are excellent to heighten the color and flavor of brown sauces and soups. The herbs usually used in soups are parsley, common thyme, summer savory, knotted marjoram, and other seasonings, such as bay-leaves, tarragon, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, mace, black and white pepper, red pepper, lemon peel and juice, orange peel and juice. The latter imparts a finer flavor and the acid much milder. These materials, with wine, and the various catsups, combined in various proportions, are, with other ingredients, made into almost an endless variety of excellent soups and gravies. Soups that are intended for the principal part of a meal certainly ought not to be flavored like sauces, which are only intended to give relish to some particular dish.