This section is from the book "Meals Medicinal", by W. T. Fernie. Also available from Amazon: Meals Medicinal: With "Herbal Simples" Curative Foods From the Cook in Place of Drugs From the Chemist.
IT was about the year 1820 that the term Broth was for the first time given to an essential solution of meat, the strength thereof being determined by the weights of the principal ingredients used. In 1740, according to Le Cuisinier Moderne, an extract of meat was prepared in dry tablets "which might be easily transported, and preserved during a year, or longer."These dissolved into excellent Broth, though half their solid matter was gelatine. The French Chemist, Chevreul, who examined this extract of meat in 1835, discovered therein the crystallized substance "creatin,"and thus originated a chemical knowledge of the principles of flesh. The Germans call such an evaporated extract of the stock-pot "pocket-bouillon,"and the French style it "bouillon sec".
Prout surmised that the active element of sapid meat-extract is an acid, probably the "inosinic acid "of Liebig. The French School of Cookery has unanimously adopted the principle that Broth is the foundation of this art, because it is the basis of all sauces; since, according to the French system, the sauce is the prime element, if not the actual raison d'etre of the entree which it supplements. For extemporizing, or strengthening Broths "Le Saveur des Potages "(known in this country as "Maggi's Essence ") is of great value, and importance. It is a highly concentrated liquid essence, which has to be as sparingly employed as though one were making up a prescription; it is therefore supplied in small bottles which have little curved spouts fitted in the neck, and thus enable the liquid to be dispensed drop by drop; the effect of a few drops on a thin Broth, or Soup is almost magical. To make therewith a good cup of Broth: Beat up the yolk of an egg in a basin previously warmed; add an eggspoonful of the said essence, and fill up the basin with boiling water, stirring well all the time.
The "Maggi" may be had either plain, concentrated, or slightly flavoured with fine herbs. "French cookery," said Dumas, "owes its superiority over that of other nations only to the excellence of its bouillon."In Devonshire the peasantry make "Tay-kittle Brath "(or "sop"), its ingredients being one slice of bread cut in dice-shaped pieces, one "spit" (i.e., very small piece) of butter, one tablespoonful of milk, one pint of boiling water, with pepper and salt to taste; sometimes chopped leeks being added, when it is called "licky Brath." "I allays likes," says a Devon peasant, "tu put a vew spits ov butter 'pon the tap ov a rice pudden; et kep'th'n vrom burning." A West Devon farmer was invited to dinner, together with one or two other tenants, by his landlord, who noticed that Mr. Tibbs did not eat his soup (vermicelli), but stirred it backwards and forwards with the spoon, whilst a look of disgust overspread his face. The host, addressing him, said, "I fear you do not care for your soup, Mr. Tibbs; let John take your plate away.
Mr. Tibbs smiled somewhat grimly, and replied, "Well, zir! I likes a dish of licky-brath, or tay-kittle brath, ov a vrasty mornin'; but, burnish it awl! I niver cude stomick maggity brath like this es".
Beef gives the weakest Broth; mutton Broth is a little stronger; and chicken Broth strongest of all. "Broth can be made, cold in quality, without the application of heat, by digesting half a pound of finely-minced beef with a pint of cold water to which four drops of hydrochloric acid (the basis of table-salt) have been added. The product thus furnished is richer in soluble albumin than when heat is employed. By using rather more of the same acid, but no salt, heat can be applied up to 130° F., and by this method nearly 50 per cent of the meat can be obtained in the broth." (Yeo) "About 80 per cent of the meat-salts pass into the Broth, and all the chlorides, with most of the phosphates".
Poached Egg Soup (Thudicum) is a pure soup quickly procurable, and a very desirable form of nourishment for persons suffering from an irritable, or sore state of the intestinal canal, as in typhoid, or enteric fever. Prepare some standard Broth, delicately flavoured; then poach some eggs (contained in immersion-moulds) in boiling water; trim them, and transfer them to the tureen, and pour the Broth over them. Dice of toast may be added if approved.
To prepare an instantaneous Broth, or Bouillon a la minute, as for cases of urgent illness (the cost being then a secondary consideration), cut up one pound of very lean gravy beef, and half a boned chicken; pound these well, and put into a stewpan, with ten grains of salt; pour over the same three pints of water, and heat to the boil, while stirring; as soon as the boiling has commenced, add shredded carrots, turnips, onions, leeks, and celery; boil for twenty minutes, and pass it through a cloth. In this way the bones are omitted, fat is excluded, the meat is much subdivided, and perfectly exhausted of its juices, whilst the time of boiling is confined to twenty minutes. The saucepan must be kept covered during this boiling, else the adage may become unpleasantly verified - "He who boils his pot with chips makes his Broth smell of smoke." Chicken Broth, for women, or children, "can be rendered emollient," says Dr. Thudicum, "by boiling in it some marsh-mallow root, and barley, sweetening it with Narbonne honey; boil, skim, and filter." A remarkable Broth, or Soup is to be made from the cockroach, or blackbeetle, of kitchen familiarity, for proving beneficial against albuminuria, or what is known as Bright's disease of the kidneys.
M. Dagin's recipe orders thus: "Pound your cockroaches in a mortar, put them in a sieve, and pour over them boiling water, or hot beef-stock; this constitutes a delicious, and nutritive plat, preferable to bisque".
Plain Broths, And Soups may be poured over crusts (croutons) which have been prepared as follows for weakly persons needing fat, and bodily warmth, whilst the digestion is fair: "Remove the crusts from slices of stale loaves, cut into small dice, and then drop them into boiling butter; shake very gently, but thoroughly, till of a light golden brown; when done, which will be in about a minute, take them up with a skimmer, and lay them in the mouth of the oven on brown paper to dry. The butter must nearly cover the bread, and must be boiling".
Herrick mentions a quaint belief which persons formerly entertained - that it is lucky to carry a small piece of dry consecrated bread in the pocket against terrors by day or night: -
"If ye fear to be affrighted, If ye are by chance benighted, In your pocket for a trust Carry nothing but a crust: For, that holy piece of bread Charms the danger, and the dread".