The Art of Entertaining Part 10

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OF SOUPS.

"Oh, a splendid soup is the true pea-green, I for it often call, And up it comes, in a smart tureen, When I dine in my banquet hall.

When a leg of mutton at home is boiled, The liquor I always keep, And in that liquor, before 't is spoiled, A peck of peas I steep; When boiled till tender they have been I rub through a sieve the peas so green.

"Though the trouble the indolent may shock, I rub with all my power, And having returned them to the stock, I stew them for an hour; Of younger peas I take some more, The mixture to improve, Thrown in a little time before The soup from the fire I move.

Then seldom a better soup is seen Than the old familiar soup pea-green."

The best of this poetical recipe is that it is not only funny, but a capital formula.

"The giblet may tire, the gravy pall, And the truth may lose its charm; But the green pea triumphs over them all And does not the slightest harm."

Some of us, however, prefer turtle. It would seem sometimes as if turtle soup were the synonym for a good dinner, and as if it dated back to the days of good Queen Bess. But fas.h.i.+on did not set its seal on turtle soup until about seventy years ago; as an entry in the "Gentleman's Magazine" mentions calipash and calipee as rarities. It is now inseparable from the Lord Mayor's dinner. When we notice ninety-nine recipes for soup in the latest French cookery book, and when we see the fate of a dinner made or marred by the first dish, we must concede that it will be a stumbling-block to the young housekeeper.

Add to that the curious fact that no Irishwoman can make a good soup until she has been taught by years of experience, and we have the first problem in the dangerous process of dinner-giving staring us in the face. A greasy, watery, ill-considered soup will take away the appet.i.te of even a hungry man; while a delicate white or brown soup, or the _purees_ of peas and asparagus, may well whet the appet.i.te of the most pampered _gourmet_.

The subject of soup-making may well be studied. A good soup is at once economical and healthful, and of the first importance in the construction of a dinner. Soup should be made the day before it is to be eaten, by boiling either a knuckle of veal for a white soup, three or four pounds of beef, with the bone well cracked, for a clear _consomme_, or by putting the bones of fish, chickens, and meat into water with salt and pepper, and thus making an economical soup, which may, however, be very good. The French put everything into the soup pot,--bones, sc.r.a.ps, pot liquor, the water in which onions have been boiled, in fact in which all vegetables including beans and potatoes have been boiled; even as a French writer says "rejected MSS. may be thrown into the soup pot;" and the result in France is always good. It is to be observed that every soup should be allowed to cool, and all the fat should be skimmed off, so that the residuum may be as clear as wine.

Delicate soups, clear _consomme_, and white soups _a la Reine_, are great favourites in America, but in England they make a strong, savoury article, which they call gravy soup. It is well to know how to prepare this, as it makes a variety.

Cut two pounds of beef from the neck into dice, and fry until brown. Break small two or three pounds of bones, and fry lightly. Bones from which streaked bacon has been cut make an excellent addition, but too many must not be used, lest the soup be salt. Slice and fry brown a pound of onions, put them with the meat and bones and three quarts of cold water into the soup pot; let it boil up, and having skimmed add two large turnips, a carrot cut in slices, a small bundle of sweet herbs, and a half a dozen pepper-corns. Let the soup boil gently for four or five hours, and about one hour before it is finished add a little piece of celery, or celery-seed tied in muslin. This is a most delicious flavour. When done, strain the soup and set it away for a night to get cold. Remove the fat and next day let it boil up, stirring in two spoonfuls of corn starch, moistened with cold water. Season with salt and pepper to taste, not too salt; add forcemeat b.a.l.l.s to the soup, and you have a whole dinner in your soup.

An oxtail soup is made like the above, only adding the tail, which is divided into joints, which are fried brown. Then these joints should be boiled until the meat comes easily off the bones. When the soup is ready put in two lumps of sugar, a gla.s.s of port wine, and pour all into the tureen.

The Julienne soup, so delicious in summer, should be a nice clear stock, with the addition of prepared vegetables. Unless the cook can buy the excellent compressed vegetables which are to be had at the Italian warehouses, it is well to follow this order:--

Wash and sc.r.a.pe a large carrot, cut away all the yellow parts from the middle, and slice the red outside. Take an equal quant.i.ty of turnips and three small onions, cut in a similar manner. Put them in a stewpan with two ounces of b.u.t.ter and a pinch of powdered sugar, stir over the fire until a nice brown colour, then add a quart of clear, well-flavoured stock, and let all simmer together gently for three hours. When done, skim the fat off very carefully, and ten minutes before serving add a lettuce cut in shreds and blanched for a minute in boiling water. Simmer for five minutes and the soup will be ready. This is a most excellent soup if well made.

Mock-turtle soup is easily made:--

Boil the bones of the head three hours, add a piece of gravy meat cut in dice and fried brown, three onions sliced and fried brown, a carrot, a turnip, celery, and a small bundle of sweet herbs; boil gently for three hours and take off the fat.

When it is ready to be served add a gla.s.s of sherry and slices of lemon. The various parts of a calf's-head can be cooked and used as forcemeat b.a.l.l.s, and made to look exactly like turtle.

This soup is found canned and is almost as good as the real article.

Dried-pea soup, _creme d'asperge_, and bean soup, in fact all the _purees_, are very healthful and elegant soups. The _puree_ is the mashed ma.s.s of pea or bean, which is added to the stock.

Boil a pint of large peas in a quart of water with a sprig of parsley or mint, and a dozen or so of green onions. When the peas are done strain and rub them through a sieve, put the _puree_ back into the liquor the peas were boiled in, add a pint of good veal or beef broth, a lump of sugar, and pepper and salt to taste. Let the soup get thoroughly hot without boiling, stir in an ounce of good b.u.t.ter, and the soup is ready.

A plain but quick and delicious soup may be made by using a can of corn, with a small piece of pork. This warmed up quickly, with a little milk added, is very good.

As for a _creme d'asperge_, it is better to employ a _chef_ to teach the new cook.

Mulligatawny soup is a visitor from India. It should not be too strong of curry powder for the average taste. The stock should be made of chicken or veal, or the liquor in which chickens have been boiled.

Slice and fry in b.u.t.ter six large onions, add four sharp, sour apples, cored and quartered, but not peeled. Let them boil in a little of the stock until quite tender, then mix with them a quarter of a pound of flour, and a small teaspoonful of curry powder. Take a quart of the stock and when the soup has boiled skim it; let it simmer for half an hour, then carefully take off all the fat, strain the soup, and rub the onions through a sieve. When ready to heat the soup for the dinner-table add any pieces of meat or chicken cut into small, delicate shapes.

When these have been boiled together for ten minutes the soup will be ready; salt to taste. Boiled rice should be sent in on a separate dish.

Sorrel soup is a great favourite with the French people. We do not make enough of sorrel in this country; it adds an excellent flavour.

Carefully wash a pound of sorrel, and having picked, cut it in shreds, put it into a stewpan with two ounces of fresh b.u.t.ter and stir it over the fire for ten minutes. Stir in an ounce of flour, mix well together and add a pint and a half of good white stock made as for veal broth. Let it simmer for half an hour. Having skimmed the soup, stir in the yolks of three eggs beaten up in half a pint of milk or cream. Stir in a little pat of b.u.t.ter, and when dissolved pour the whole over thin pieces of toasted bread into the tureen.

With the large family of the broths every housewife should become acquainted. They are invaluable for the sick, especially broths of chicken and mutton. For veal broth the following is an elaborate, but excellent recipe:

Get three or four pounds of scrag, or a knuckle of veal, chopped into small pieces, also a ham bone, or slice of ham, and cover with water; let it boil up, skim it until no more rises. Put in four or five onions, a turnip, and later a bit of celery or celery seed tied in muslin, a little salt, and white pepper. Let it boil gently for four hours; strain the gravy and having taken off all the fat return the residue to the pot and let it boil; then slightly thicken with corn flour, about one teaspoonful to a quart of soup; let it simmer before serving. Three pounds of veal should make two quarts of good soup.

A sheep's-head soup is famous all over Scotland and is made as follows:--

Get the head of a sheep with the skin on, soak it in tepid water, take out the tongue and brains, break all the thin bones inside the cheek, and carefully wash it in several waters; put it on in a quart of water with a teaspoonful of salt and let it boil ten minutes. Pour away this water and put two quarts more with one pound of a scrag of mutton; add, cut up, six onions, two turnips, two carrots, a sprig of parsley, and season with pepper and salt. Let it boil gently for four or five hours, when the head and neck will not be too much cooked for the family dinner, and may be served either with parsley or onion sauce. It is a most savoury morsel. Strain the soup, and let it cool so as to remove every particle of fat. Rub the vegetables through a sieve to a fine _puree_. Mix a tablespoonful of flour in a quarter of a pint of milk; make the soup boil up and stir it in with the vegetables.

Have the tongue boiled until it is very tender, skin and trim it, have the brains also well cooked, and chop and pound them very fine with the tongue, mix them with an equal weight of sifted bread-crumbs, a tablespoonful of chopped green parsley, pepper, salt, and egg, and if necessary a small quant.i.ty of flour to enable you to roll the mixture into little b.a.l.l.s. Put an ounce of b.u.t.ter into a small frying-pan and fry the b.a.l.l.s until a nice brown, lay them on paper before the fire to drain away all the fat, and put them into the soup after it is poured into the tureen. Scald and chop some green parsley and serve separately on a plate.

Thackeray thought so much of a boiled sheep's head that he made it the point of one of his humorous poems.

"By that grand vow that bound thee Forever to my side, And by the ring that made thee My darling and my bride!

Thou wilt not fail or falter But bend thee to the task-- A boiled sheep's head on Sunday Is all the boon I ask!"

In France, cabbage is much used in soup.

"Ha, what is this that rises to my touch So like a cus.h.i.+on--can it be a cabbage?

It is, it is, that deeply inspired flower Which boys do flout us with, but yet--I love thee, Thou giant rose, wrapped in a green surtout.

Doubtless in Eden thou didst blush as bright As these thy puny brethren, and thy breath Sweetened the fragrance of her spicy air; And now thou seemst like a bankrupt beau Stripped of his gaudy hues and essences, And growing portly in his sober garments."

The cabbage is without honour in America; and yet if boiled in water which is thrown away, having absorbed all its grosser essences, and then boiled again and chopped and dressed with b.u.t.ter and cream, it is an excellent vegetable. Its disagreeable odour has led to its expulsion from many a house, but corn-beef and cabbage are not to be despised.

Cauliflower, which Thackeray calls the "apotheosis of cabbage," is the most delicate of vegetables; and a _puree_ of cauliflower shall close our chapter on soups.

Boil in salted water, using a small piece of b.u.t.ter, two heads of cauliflower, drain and pa.s.s them through a colander, dilute with two quarts of sauce and a quart of chicken broth, season with salt, white pepper, and grated nutmeg. Add a teaspoonful of fine white sugar, then pa.s.s the whole forcibly with a wooden presser through a fine sieve,--the finer the sieve the better the _puree_. Put the residue in a stewpan, set it on the fire, stir all the while till it boils, let it boil for ten minutes, strain well, add a mixture made with the yolks of six eggs and half a pint of cream, finish with four ounces of table b.u.t.ter, and serve with small, fried, square _croutons_.

A _puree_ of celery is equally excellent; but all these soups require an intelligent cook. It is better to have one's cook taught to make soups by an expert, for it is the most difficult of all the dishes, if thoroughly good. The plain soup, free from grease and well flavoured, is easy enough after a little training, "but the chief ingredient of soup is brains," according to a London _chef_. It is, however, a good practice for an amateur cook to experiment and to try these various recipes, all of which are practicable.

FISH.

What is thy diet? Canst thou gulf a shoal Of herrings? Or hast thou gorge and room To bolt fat porpoises and dolphins whole By dozens, e'en as oysters we consume?

PUNCH.

The world's mine oyster, which I with sword will open.

HOTSPUR.

The Egyptians, strange to say, did not deify fish, that important article of their food. We read of the enormous yield of Lake Moeris, which was dammed up by the great Rameses, and whose draught of fishes brought him so enormous a revenue.

One of the most fascinating of all the Egyptian Queens, Sonivaphra, received the revenues of one of these fisheries to keep her in shoe-strings,--probably another name for pin money.

The Art of Entertaining Part 10

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