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Soup Making

The art of soup making is more easily mastered than at first appears. The young housekeeper is startled at the amazingly large number of ingredients the recipe calls for, and often is discouraged. One may, with but little expense, keep at hand what is essential for the making of a good soup. Winter vegetables—turnips, carrots, celery, and onions—may be bought in large or small quantities. The outer stalks of celery, often not suitable for serving, should be saved for soups. At seasons when celery is a luxury, the tips and roots should be saved and dried. Sweet herbs, including thyme, savory, and marjoram, are dried and put up in packages, retailing from five to ten cents. Bay leaves, which should be used sparingly, may be obtained at first class grocers' or druggists'; seeming never to lose strength, they may be kept indefinitely. Spices, including whole cloves, allspice berries, peppercorns, and stick cinnamon, should be kept on hand. These seasonings, with the addition of salt, pepper, and parsley, are the essential flavorings for stock soups. Flour, corn-starch, arrowroot, fine tapioca, sago, pearl barley, rice, bread or eggs are added to give consistency and nourishment. In small families, where there are few left-overs, fresh meat must be bought for the making of soup stock, as a good soup cannot be made from a small amount of poor material. On the other hand, large families need seldom buy fresh meat, providing all left-overs are properly cared for. The soup kettle should receive small pieces of beef (roasted, broiled, or stewed), veal, carcasses of fowl or chicken, chop bones, bones left from lamb roast, and all trimmings and bones, which a careful housewife should see are sent from the market with her order. Avoid the use of smoked or corned meats, or large pieces of raw mutton or lamb, surrounded by fat, on account of the strong flavor so disagreeable to many. A small piece of bacon or lean ham is sometimes cooked with vegetables for flavor. Beef ranks first as regards utility and economy in soup making. It should be cut from the fore or hind shin (which cuts contain marrow-bone), the middle cuts being most desirable. If the lower part of shin is used, the soup, although rich in gelatin, lacks flavor, unless a cheap piece of lean meat is used with it, which frequently is done. It must be remembered that meat, bone, and fat in the right proportions are all necessary; allow two-thirds lean meat, the remaining one-third bone and fat. From the meat the soluble juices, salts, extractives (which give color and flavor), and a small quantity of gelatin are extracted; from the bone, gelatin (which gives the stock when cold a jelly-like consistency) and mineral matter. Gelatin is also obtained from cartilage, skin, tendons, and ligaments. Some of the fat is absorbed, the remainder rises to the top and should be removed. Soup-stock making is rendered easier by use of proper utensils. Sharp meat knives, hard-wood board, two purée strainers having meshes of different size, and a soup digester (a porcelain-lined iron pot, having tight-fitting cover, with valve in the top), or covered granite kettle, are essentials. An iron kettle, which formerly constituted one of the furnishings of a range, may be used if perfectly smooth. A saw, cleaver, and scales, although not necessary, are useful, and lighten labor. When meat comes from market, remove from paper and put in cool place. When ready to start stock, if scales are at hand, weigh meat and bone to see if correct proportions have been sent. Wipe meat with clean cheese cloth, wrung out of cold water. Cut lean meat in one-inch cubes; by so doing, a large amount of surface is exposed to the water, and juices are more easily drawn out. Heat frying-pan hissing hot; remove marrow from marrow-bone, and use enough to brown one-third of the lean meat, s tirring constantly, that all parts of surface may be seared, thus preventing escape of juices,—sacrificing a certain amount of goodness in the stock, to give additional color and flavor, which is obtained by caramelization. Put fat, bone, and remaining lean meat in soup kettle; cover with cold water, allowing one pint to each pound of meat, bone, and fat. Let stand one hour, that cold water may draw out juices from meat. Add browned meat, taking water from soup kettle to rinse out frying-pan, that none of the coloring may be lost. Heat gradually to boiling point, and cook six or seven hours at low temperature. A scum will rise on the top, which contains coagulated albuminous juices; these give to soup its chief nutritive value; many, however, prefer a clear soup, and have them removed. If allowed to remain, when straining, a large part will pass through strainer. Vegetables, spices, and salt should be added the last hour of cooking. Strain and cool quickly; by so doing stock is less apt to ferment. A knuckle of veal is often used for making white soup stock. Fowl should be used for stock in preference to chicken, as it is cheaper, and contains a larger amount of nutriment. A cake of fat forms on stock when cold, which excludes air, and should not be removed until stock is used. To remove fat, run a knife around edge of bowl and carefully remove the same. A small quantity will remain, which should be removed by passing a cloth wrung out of hot water around edge and over top of stock. This fat should be clarified and used for drippings. If time cannot be allowed for stock to cool before using, take off as much fat as possible with a spoon, and remove the remainder by passing tissue or any absorbent paper over the surface.


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The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book (1896).

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