662 Puree Soups

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Appears in

Le Guide Culinaire

By Auguste Escoffier

Published 1903

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The ingredients and methods of thickening

Purée Soups are composed of a basic ingredient which can be a single vegetable, a combination of vegetables or a single item of poultry, game or shellfish. Almost all forms of these soups should be supported by a thickening agent, i.e.

  • rice for Purées of poultry, shellfish and certain vegetables,

  • potatoes for Purées having a base of leaf vegetables and certain root vegetables such as pumpkin,

  • lentils for all Purées of game,

  • Croûtons of fried bread for Purées prepared in the old classical style.

In the old classical kitchen these Croûtons were the principal if not the only thickening agent used, notably for Coulis and Bisques. This procedure which merits reintroduction to modern cookery gives soups an incomparably smooth texture.

The Purées using pulses as the main ingredient such as haricot beans or lentils and those where the main ingredient is a starchy vegetable such as potatoes, have no need for an additional thickening agent, bearing in mind that these vegetables already contain the necessary thickening quality.

Proportions of liquids and thickening agents

The liquids used in the preparation of Purée Soups are White Bouillon, Game Bouillon or Fish Bouillon according to the nature of the basic ingredient of the Purée and sometimes milk for Purées of vegetables.

The usual proportion of liquid is 2 litres ( pt or 9 U.S. cups) liquid to 1 litre ( pt or U.S. cups) actual purée.

The proportions of thickening agents are established as follows

  • 85–120 g (3–4 oz) rice per 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) of vegetables or 75–100 g (2½–3½ oz) rice per 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) poultry, game or shellfish flesh,

  • 190 g (7 oz) raw lentils per 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) of game flesh,

  • 250 g (9 oz) potatoes per 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) of leaf or root vegetables,

  • 270 g (10 oz) fried bread Croûtons per 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) of vegetables or shellfish flesh.

Preparation and finishing of Purée soups

The vegetables used for making Purée soups are either sliced and stewed raw with 80–100 g (3–3½ oz) butter per 600–700 g (1 lb 5 oz- lb) vegetable or sliced and blanched before being stewed in butter; this will be indicated in the following recipes.

The game for Purée soups is roasted as for Salmis and finished cooking with the lentils; the bones are carefully removed when cooked. The flesh is then pounded with the lentils, passed through a sieve and the consistency of the purée is then adjusted. Care must be taken to remove the required amount of breast meat for its garnish at the moment when the game is just cooked.

The poultry for Purées is poached or cooked in White Bouillon together with the rice for thickening it. When cooked the bones are removed carefully and the flesh is made into a purée in the same way as for game taking care to remove the required amount of white meat for its garnish at the moment when the poultry is just cooked.

When the consistency of vegetable based Purée soups has been adjusted, the soup must then be simmered very gently for 25–30 minutes and skimmed very carefully. It is advisable to occasionally add a few spoonfuls of cold Bouillon during this procedure as this will help to remove impurities which are suspended in the Purée, thus bringing them to the surface.

Purées of poultry, game or shellfish are placed in a Bain-marie to keep hot immediately after boiling, no further simmering or skimming is necessary. All Purée soups should be passed through a fine strainer at the last moment and should finally be finished away from the heat with 80–100 g (3–3½ oz) butter per 1 litre ( pt or U.S. cups) soup.

Those Purée soups of which the basic thickening agent is a whitish starch such as haricot beans, rice, potatoes etc. or bread Croûtons, can be finished with a liaison of egg yolks and cream.

It must be considered as a firm principle that a soup which has been finally buttered must not be reboiled; butter gives the soup a clean fresh flavour which would be destroyed if it was reboiled.

Garnishes for Purée Soups

Purée soups should be garnished according to their type with either of the following:

  • small diced bread Croûtons fried in butter allowing 50 g (2 oz) or 2 tbs per 1 litre ( pt or U.S. cups) soup,

  • small dice of poultry or game cut from the cooked and reserved flesh, or small Quenelles made from some of the reserved raw flesh.

  • small dice of cooked flesh of the shellfish used in making the Purée.

Changes in the Preparation of Certain Soups

A large number of Purée soups are capable of being transformed into Velouté or Cream soups by adding to the main ingredient, a Velouté of chicken or fish, or a thin Sauce Béchamel instead of the thickening agent normally used in their preparation. However, some of these Purée soups, because of the nature of their ingredients can only be served as a Purée.

Those Purée soups suitable for preparing as Veloutés and Creams are noted in the following recipes.