Category: The Cook and Housekeeper's Complete and Universal Dictionary
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It has generally been considered as good economy to use the cheapest and most inferior kind of meat for broths and soups, and to boil it down till it is entirely destroyed, and hardly worth giving to the pigs. But this is a false frugality; and it is far better to buy good pieces of meat, and only stew them till they are tender enough to be eaten. Lean juicy beef, mutton, or veal, form the basis of good broth; and it is therefore advisable to procure those pieces which afford the richest succulence, and such as is fresh slain. Stale meat will make the broth grouty and bad tasted, and fat is not so well adapted to the purpose.

The following herbs, roots, and seasonings, are proper for making and giving a relish to broths and soups, according as the taste may suit. Scotch barley, pearl barley, wheat flour, oatmeal, bread, raspings, peas, beans, rice, vermicelli, maccaroni, isinglass, potatoe mucilage, mushroom, or mushroom ketchup, champignons, parsnips, carrots, beet root, turnips, garlic, shalots, and onions. Sliced onions fried with butter and flour till they are browned, and then rubbed through a sieve, are excellent to heighten the colour and flavour of brown soups and sauces, and form the basis of most of the fine relishes furnished by the cook. The older and drier the onion, the stronger will be its flavour, and the quantity must be regulated accordingly. Leeks, cucumber, or burnet vinegar; celery, or celery seed pounded. 

The latter, though equally strong, does not impart the delicate sweetness of the fresh vegetable; and when used as a substitute, its flavour should be corrected by the addition of a bit of sugar. Cress seed, parsley, common thyme, lemon thyme, orange thyme, knotted marjoram, sage, mint, winter savoury, and basil. As fresh green basil is seldom to be procured, and its fine flavour is soon lost, the best way of preserving the extract is by pouring wine on the fresh leaves. Bay leaves, tomata, tarragon, chervil, burnet, allspice, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove, mace, black pepper, white pepper, essence of anchovy, lemon peel, lemon juice, and Seville orange juice. The latter imparts a finer flavour than the lemon, and the acid is much milder. The above materials, with wine and mushroom ketchup, combined in various proportions, will make an endless variety of excellent broths and soups. The general fault of English soups seems to be the employment of an excess of spice, and too small a proportion of roots and herbs. This is especially the case with tavern soups, where cayenne and garlic are often used instead of black pepper and onion, for the purpose of obtaining a higher relish. Soups, which are intended to constitute the principal part of a meal, certainly ought not to be flavoured like sauces, which are only designed to give a relish to some particular dish. 

The principal art in composing a good rich soup, is so to proportion the several ingredients one to another, that no particular taste be stronger than the rest; but to produce such a fine harmonious relish, that the whole becomes delightful. In order to this, care must be taken that the roots and herbs be perfectly well cleaned, and that the water be proportioned to the quantity of meat, and other ingredients. In general a quart of water may be allowed to a pound of meat for soups; and half the quantity for gravies. If they stew gently, little more water need be put in at first, than is expected at the end; for when the pot is covered quite close, and the fire gentle, very little is wasted. Gentle stewing is incomparably the best; the meat is more tender, and the soup better flavoured. The cover of a soup kettle should fit very close, or the most essential parts of the broth will soon evaporate, as will also be the case with quick boiling. It is not merely the fibres of the meat that afford nourishment, but chiefly the juices they contain; and these are not only extracted but exhaled, if it be boiled fast in an open vessel. A succulent soup can never be made but in a well closed vessel, which preserves the nutritive parts by preventing their dissipation, yet the flavour is perhaps more wholesome by an exposure to the air. 

Place the soup kettle over a moderate fire, sufficient to make the water hot, without causing it to boil; for if the water boils immediately, it will not penetrate the meat, and cleanse it from the clotted blood and other matters, which ought to go off in scum. The meat will be hardened all over by violent heat, will shrink up as if it were scorched, and afford very little gravy. On the contrary, by keeping the water heating about half an hour without boiling, the meat swells, becomes tender, and its fibres are dilated. By this process, it yields a quantity of scum, which must be taken off as soon as it appears. After the meat has had a good infusion for half an hour, the fire may be improved to make the pot boil, and the vegetables be put in with a little salt. These will cause more scum to rise, which must be taken off immediately. Then cover the boiler very closely, and place it at a proper distance from the fire, where it is to boil very gently and equally, but not fast. 

Soups will generally take from three to six hours doing. The better way is to prepare them the evening before, as that will give more time to attend to the dinner the next day. When the soup is cold, the fat may much more easily and completely be removed; and when it is decanted, take care not to disturb the settlings at the bottom of the vessel, which are so fine that they will escape through a sieve. A tammis is the best strainer, the soup appears smoother and finer, and the cloth is easier cleaned than any sieve. If you strain it while it is hot, let the tammis or napkin be previously soaked in cold water; the coldness of the strainer will tend to coagulate the fat, and only suffer the pure broth to pass through. The full flavour of the ingredients can only be extracted by long and slow simmering, during which the boiler must be kept close covered, to prevent evaporation. 

Clear soups must be perfectly transparent, thickened soups about the consistence of cream; the latter will require nearly double the quantity of seasoning, but too much spice makes it unwholesome. To thicken and give body to soups and sauces, the following materials are used. Bread raspings, potatoe mucilage, isinglass, flour and butter, barley, rice, or oatmeal and water rubbed well together. Any of these are to be mixed gradually with the soup, till thoroughly incorporated, and it should afterwards have at least half an hour's gentle simmering. If it appears lumpy, it must be passed through a tammis or fine sieve. A piece of boiled beef pounded to a pulp, with a bit of butter and flour, and rubbed through a sieve, and gradually incorporated with the soup, will be found an excellent addition. If the soup is too thin or too weak, take off the cover of the boiler, and let it boil till some of the watery part of it has evaporated; or add some of the thickening materials before mentioned. 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.

It has been imagined that soups tend to relax the stomach; but so far from being prejudicial in this way, the moderate use of such kind of liquid food may rather be considered as salutary, and affording a good degree of nourishment. Soup of a good quality, if not eaten too hot, or in too great a quantity, is attended with great advantages, especially to those who drink but little. Warm fluids in the form of soup, unite with our juices much sooner and better, than those which are cold and raw. On this account, what is called Restorative Soup is the best food for those who are enfeebled by disease or dissipation, and for old people, whose teeth and digestive organs are impaired. After taking cold, or in nervous headachs, cholics, indigestions, and different kinds of cramps and spasms in the stomach, warm broth or soup is of excellent service. After intemperate eating, to give the stomach a holiday for a day or two, by a diet on mutton broth, is the best way to restore its tone. The stretching of any power to its utmost extent, weakens it; and if the stomach be obliged every day to do as much as it can, it will every day be able to do less. It is therefore a point of wisdom to be temperate in all things, frequently to indulge in soup diet, and occasionally in almost total abstinence, in order to preserve the stomach in its full tone and vigour.--Cheap soups for charitable purposes are best made of fat meat, well boiled with vegetables. 

Much unreasonable prejudice has prevailed on this subject, as if fat was unsuitable for such a purpose, when it is well known that the nutritious parts of animal and vegetable diet depend on the oil, jelly, mucilage, and sweetness which they contain. The farina of grain, and the seeds of vegetables, contain more of the nutritious and essential parts of the plant than any other, as is evident from the use of celery seed, the eighth part of an ounce of which will give more relish to a gallon of soup, than a large quantity of the root or stalk. On the same principle, the fat is the essence of meat, nearly so as the seeds of plants are of their respective species. To establish this fact, a simple experiment will be sufficient. Boil from two to four ounces of the lean part of butcher's meat in six quarts of water, till reduced to a gallon. Thicken it with oatmeal, and the result of the decoction will be found to be water gruel, or something like it. But dissolve the same quantity of the fat of meat in a gallon of water, thicken it over the fire with oatmeal, and the result will be a very pleasant broth, possessing the identical taste of the meat in a considerable degree, whether of beef or mutton. If some of the gelatinous parts of meat be added, the broth is then of a rich and nutritious quality, and can be made very cheap. For example: take from four to six ounces of barley, oatmeal two ounces, onions or leeks a small quantity; beef fat, suet, or drippings, from two to four ounces; celery seed half a spoonful, pepper and salt to give the soup a relish, and water sufficient to make a gallon. Boil the barley, previously washed, in six quarts of water, which when boiled sufficiently soft will be reduced to a gallon. It will be necessary to skim it clean in the course of the boiling, and to stir it well from the bottom of the boiler. 

The celery seed should be bruised, and added with the leeks and onions, towards the end of the process. The oatmeal is to be mixed in a little cold water, and put in about an hour before the soup is done. In the last place add the fat, melted before the fire, if not in a state of drippings, and season with pepper and salt. A few grains of cayenne would give the soup a higher relish. Wheat flour may be used instead of oatmeal, but in a smaller proportion. The addition of turnips, carrots, and cabbages, will be a considerable improvement. The intention of the oatmeal or flour is, by the mucilage they contain, assisted with barley broth, to unite the fat with the liquid, so as to form one uniform mass. Where the fat is suspended in the soup, and not seen floating on the top, by which it is rendered easier of digestion, and more readily convertible into good chyle, it is evident that it must be more palatable, as well as abundantly more nutritious. Some may think this kind of soup unwholesome, from the quantity of fat it contains; but a little reflection will shew the contrary. Suet puddings and dumplins are not unwholesome, neither are mutton drippings with potatoes or other vegetables. In short, fat is eaten daily by all ranks of people, in some way or other, in much larger quantities than is prescribed for soup. 

A labouring man would find no difficulty in eating as much suet at one meal, in a flour pudding, or as much drippings as is necessary for a gallon of soup, in a mass of potatoes or cabbages; while at the same time a quart of soup with a slice of bread, would be a very hearty meal. In no other way could meat drippings be applied to so good a purpose, as in the manufacture of a gallon of soup, sufficient to give a dinner to a whole family. The quantity of fat or drippings necessary for the soup is so small, that it may easily be spared from a joint of roast meat, while enough will remain for other purposes. When mutton dripping is made into soup, wheat flour is better than oatmeal; but the mucilage of potatoe is better still, requiring only one ounce to the gallon. When pork is roasted, peas should be used in preference to boiled barley, and the soup will be very superior in flavour to any that is made with the bones of meat, or combined with bacon. Fat pork is eaten daily in large quantities, in most of the counties of England; and in some parts, hog's lard is spread on bread instead of butter, besides the abundance of lard that is used by all ranks of people, in puddings, cakes, and pasties. Fat enters so much into the composition of our diet, that we could scarcely subsist without it; and the application of it to soups is only a different mode of using it, and certainly more frugal and economical than any other. It may readily be perceived how soups made from lean meat might be improved by the addition of a little fat, mixed up and incorporated with a mucilage of potatoes, of wheat flour, oatmeal, peas, and barley. 

But where a quantity of fat swims on the surface of the broth, made from a fat joint of meat, and it cannot from its superabundance be united with the liquid, by means of any mucilage, it had better be skimmed off, and preserved for future use; otherwise the soup will not be agreeable, for it is the due proportion of animal and vegetable substance that makes soup pleasant and wholesome. To make good soup of a leg of beef or an ox cheek, which is generally called stew, a pretty large quantity of the vegetable class ought to be added; and none seems better adapted than Scotch barley, by which double and treble the quantity of soup may be made from the same given weight of meat. One pint of well prepared leg of beef, or ox cheek soup, together with the fat, will make a gallon of good soup at the trifling expense of four-pence. In the same way soups may be made from the stew of beef, mutton, veal, or pork, choosing those parts where mucilage, jelly, and fat abound. Bacon is allowed to be a considerable improvement to the taste of veal, whether roasted or boiled; and it is the same in soup. 

When therefore veal broth is made for family use, two ounces of fat bacon should be added to every gallon, melted before the fire or in a fryingpan. The soup should then be thickened with flour, potatoe starch, and barley. The last article should seldom be omitted in any soup, it being so very cheap and pleasant, as well as wholesome and nutritious. Soup made of tripe is another cheap article. Boil a pound of well cleaned tripe in a gallon of barley broth, with onions and parsley, adding two ounces of bacon fat, with salt and pepper. This produces an extremely nutritious soup, from the gelatinous principle with which the tripe abounds. Cow heels, calves and sheep's feet, are also well adapted to the purpose. Excellent soups may be made from fried meat, where the fat and gravy are added to the boiled barley; and for that purpose, fat beef steaks, pork and mutton chops, should be preferred, as containing more of the nutritious principle. Towards the latter end of frying the steaks, add a little water to produce a gravy, which is to be put to the barley broth. A little flour should also be dredged in, which will take up all the fat left in the fryingpan. A quantity of onions should previously be shred, and fried with the fat, which gives the soup a fine flavour, with the addition of pepper, salt, and other seasoning. There would be no end to the variety of soups that might be made from a number of cheap articles differently combined; but perhaps the distribution of soup gratis does not answer so well as teaching people how to make it, and to improve their comforts at home. 

The time lost in waiting for the boon, and fetching it home, might by an industrious occupation, however poorly paid for labour, be turned to a better account than the mere obtaining of a quart of soup. But it unfortunately happens, that the best and cheapest method of making a nourishing soup, is least known to those who have most need of it. The labouring classes seldom purchase what are called the coarser pieces of meat, because they do not know how to dress them, but lay out their money in pieces for roasting, which are far less profitable, and more expensive in the purchase. To save time, trouble, and firing, these are generally sent to the oven to be baked, the nourishing parts are evaporated and dried up, the weight is diminished nearly one third, and what is purchased with a week's earnings is only sufficient for a day or two's consumption. If instead of this improvident proceeding, a cheap and wholesome soup were at least occasionally substituted, it would banish the still more pernicious custom of drinking tea two or three times a day, for want of something more supporting and substantial. In addition then to the directions already given, the following may be considered as one of the cheapest and easiest methods of making a wholesome soup, suited to a numerous family among the labouring classes. Put four ounces of Scotch barley washed clean, and four ounces of sliced onions, into five quarts of water. Boil it gently for one hour, and pour it into a pan. Put into a saucepan nearly two ounces of beef or mutton drippings, or melted suet, or two or three ounces of minced bacon; and when melted, stir into it four ounces of oatmeal. 

Rub these together into a paste, and if properly managed, the whole of the fat will combine with the barley broth, and not a particle, appear on the surface to offend the most delicate stomach. Now add the barley broth, at first a spoonful at a time, then the rest by degrees, stirring it well together till it boils. Put into a teacup a dram of finely pounded cress or celery seed, and a quarter of a dram of finely pounded cayenne, or a dram and a half of ground black pepper or allspice, and mix it up with a little of the soup. Put this seasoning into the whole quantity, stir up the soup thoroughly, let it simmer gently a quarter of an hour, and add a little salt. The flavour may be varied by doubling the portion of onions, or adding a clove of garlic or shalot, and leaving out the celery seed. Change of food is absolutely necessary, not only as a matter of pleasure and comfort, but also of health. It may likewise be much improved, if instead of water, it be made of the liquor that meat has been boiled in. This soup has the advantage of being very soon made, with no more fuel than is necessary to warm a room. Those who have not tasted it, cannot imagine what a savoury and satisfying meal is produced by the combination of these cheap and homely ingredients.


Pare and cut the cucumbers, then stew them with some good broth, and veal gravy to cover them. When done enough, heat the soup with the liquor they were stewed in, and season it with salt. Serve up the soup garnished with the cucumbers. These will be a proper garnish for almost any kind of soup.


Put into a saucepan holding about three pints, a quarter of a cabbage, four carrots, two parsnips, six onions, and three or four turnips. Add a root of celery, a small root of parsley, some sorrel, a bunch of white beet leaves and chervil, and half a pint of peas tied in a piece of linen. Add water in proportion to the vegetables, and stew the whole for three hours. Strain off the broth, add some salt, heat it and serve it up, garnished with the vegetables.


Take some good juicy lean beef, free from sinews or other offal substance; or take the lean of a neck, or loin, or the fleshy part of a leg of mutton, or well-grown fowl, in the proportion of a pound of meat to a quart of water to beef, and rather less to mutton or fowl. Cut the meat in pieces, and let it stew very gently till the pure gravy is fairly drawn from the meat, without extracting the dregs. The time required for this will vary according to the quantity, the proper degree of heat being of course longer in penetrating the larger portion. From an hour and a half to three hours, at discretion, will allow sufficient time for any quantity that is likely to be wanted at once for soup, at least in private families. When done, strain the gravy through a hair sieve into an earthen pot, and let it stand till cold. Take off the fat, and pour the gravy clear from the sediment at the bottom.


Melt half a pound of butter into a stewpan, shake it round, and throw in half a dozen sliced onions. Shake the pan well for two or three minutes, then put in five heads of celery, two handfuls of spinach, two cabbage lettuces cut small, and some parsley. Shake the pan well for ten minutes, put in two quarts of water, some crusts of bread, a tea-spoonful of beaten pepper, and three or four blades of mace. A handful of white beet leaves, cut small, may be added. Boil it gently an hour. Just before serving, beat in two yolks of eggs, and a large spoonful of vinegar.--Another. Flour and fry a quart of green peas, four sliced onions, the coarse stalks of celery, a carrot, a turnip, and a parsnip. Pour on three quarts of water, let it simmer till the whole will pulp through a sieve, and boil in it the best of the celery cut thin.--Another way. Take a bunch of celery washed clean and cut in pieces, a large handful of spinage, two cabbage lettuces, and some parsley; wash all very clean, and shred them small; then take a large clean stewpan, put in about half a pound of butter, and when it is quite hot, slice four large onions very thin, and put into your butter; stir them well about for two or three minutes; then put in the rest of your herbs; shake all well together for near twenty minutes, dust in some flour, and stir them together; pour in two quarts of boiling water; season with pepper, salt, and beaten mace: chip a handful of crust of bread, and put in; boil it half an hour, then beat up the yolks of three eggs in a spoonful of vinegar; pour it in, and stir it for two or three minutes; then send it to table.


Blanch some small white onions in scalding water, peel off the first skin, and stew them in a little broth. When ready, lay them in a row round the edge of the dish intended for the soup. To keep them in their place, put a thin slip of bread rubbed with white of egg round the rim of the dish, and set the dish for a moment over a stove to fasten the bread. Slips of bread may be used in this manner to keep all kinds of garnishing to soups in their proper place.


Blanch and beat very fine in a marble mortar, three quarters of a pound of sweet almonds, with the white part of a cold roasted fowl. Slice to these the crumb of four small rolls, and then strain to it three quarts of good veal gravy, boiled with a blade of mace. Simmer these all together for a quarter of an hour, then rub them through a tammis, season it with salt, give it a boil, and serve it up with a small tea-cupful of cream stirred into it, and the slices of crust cut off the rolls laid on the top.

Another way. Have ready a strong veal broth that is white, and clean scummed from all fat; blanch a pound of almonds, beat them in a mortar, with a little water, to prevent their oiling, and the yolks of four poached eggs, the lean part of the legs, and all the white part of a roasted fowl; pound all together, as fine as possible; then take three quarts of the veal broth, put it into a clean stew-pot, put your ingredients in, and mix them well together; chip in the crust of two French rolls well rasped; boil all together over a stove, or a clear fire. Take a French roll, cut a piece out of the top, and take out all the crumb: mince the white part of a roasted fowl very fine, season it with pepper, salt, nutmeg, and a little beaten mace; put in about an ounce of butter, and moisten it with two spoonfuls of your soup strained to it; set it over the stove to be thoroughly hot: cut some French roll in thin slices, and set them before the fire to crisp; then strain off your soup through a tammis or a lawn strainer, into another clean stew-pot; let it stew till it is as thick as cream; then have your dish ready; put in some of your crisp bread; fill your roll with your mince, and lay on the top as close as possible; put it into the middle of your dish, and pour a ladleful of your soup over it; put in your bread first, then pour in your soup, till your dish is full. Garnish with petty patties; or make a rim for your dish, and garnish with lemon raced. If you please, you may send a chicken boned in the middle, instead of your roll; or you may send it to table with only crisp bread.


Boil half a pound of grated potatoes, a pound of beef sliced thin, a pint of grey peas, an onion, and three ounces of rice, in six pints of water till reduced to five. Strain it through a cullender, pulp the peas into it, and return it into the saucepan with two heads of sliced celery. Stew it tender, add pepper and salt, and serve it with fried bread.