[1] Clear bouillon

Bul’on chistyj

Ingredients

  • 3–4 lbs beef
  • 2 onions
  • 1–2 carrots
  • ½ leek
  • ½ celery root
  • 1–2 parsley roots
  • parsley and dill

To Clarify the Bouillon

  • 2egg whites, or
  • ¼ lb pressed caviar,* or
  • ½ lb beef

Method

Prepare as just indicated in the Remarks. Thus, for 6–8 persons, take 3–4 lbs of fresh beef rump, round, or chuck, and wash it in cold water to remove any dust or dirt, taking care not to squeeze the meat. Place the beef in a stoneware pot or stockpot reserved for soup and add 2 onions and 6 full plates, or 9 glasses, of cold water. Measure with a spill or stick, [mark the height of the liquid,] and add another 6 glasses of water. Let the soup come to a boil over a high flame, skim the bouillon, and then simmer over a low flame for 3–4 hours until reduced to the mark on the spill. As directed in the Remarks, transfer the beef to another stew-pan 30 minutes before dinner. Remove the bouillon from the fire, add 1 spoon cold water, and let the soup settle completely until it is clear and transparent. Skim off any fat and carefully strain through a clean napkin, pouring off the clear bouillon.

Rinse out the stewpan in which the bouillon cooked and pour back the strained bouillon. Add the rinsed beef and the peeled and washed root vegetables (2 carrots, 1–2 parsley roots, ½ leek, ½ celery root) and cook.

If the bouillon has to be very clear and transparent, clarify it with egg whites, caviar,* or raw beef as indicated in the Remarks.

To serve, strain into a soup bowl and garnish with finely chopped parsley and dill.

Remarks: All or part of the following may be added to this bouillon, according to taste and circumstance. When meat or poultry is prepared for another dish, add the scraps to the bouillon, especially any bits of veal, the head and feet of chickens and turkeys, and the crushed bones from yesterday’s bouillon. The more of these the better. Cook all this in the bouillon from the very beginning so that the scum can be removed; then strain. Some people add 1–2 baked rather than raw onions; or 1–2 dried, cleaned mushrooms; or a beef kidney; or ½ tablespoon of the best dried green peas, washed. Two hours before serving, you may add a rutabaga to the bouillon. Forty-five minutes before serving, you may add additional carrots, parsley roots, or celery roots to the basic root vegetables. Some people add 1–2 whole cloves or ground nutmeg. Cook until just before serving and then strain.

To serve, this bouillon may be varied as follows:** clear, only with dill and parsley, with all kinds of pirozhki and stuffed shells; with croutons or sippets; with carrots and spinach leaves, halved and blanched in salted boiling water for a few minutes (¼ lb spinach and 2 carrots, sliced evenly); with Frikadellen [small meatballs] or quenelles (use ¼ lb beef for the meatballs) or kletski [a kind of dumpling]; or with kasha made from Smolensk groats; noodles; lazanki [small dumplings boiled in bouillon or salted water] ; semolina; rice kasha, rice pirozhki, or croquettes; sago; oats; pearl barley; carefully cut root vegetables and pirozhki or potatoes; root vegetables and cabbage; Brussels sprouts and meatballs; green peas, cauliflower, and asparagus; dried vegetables; or pel’meni [dumplings].

*To clarify the soup, Molokhovets used pressed caviar, which is of second quality. Pressed caviar contains broken eggs and is darker in color than first quality caviar. See Glossary for more on caviar. The protein in the caviar as in the egg white or beef serves to precipitate the minute particles suspended in the bouillon. From a modern point of view, this seems like an extravagant use for caviar, but it does strongly suggest that caviar must have been much cheaper and more readily available a century ago than it is today.

**Soup accompaniments came in many guises and from many different sources as can be seen from this list, with its German Frikadellen and kletski (from Polish, from the Middle High German Klotz), its French quenelles, its Italian lazanki (from Polish from the Italian lazagne), its Siberian pel’meni (with Finno-Ugric roots), and its adopted lapsha (from Turkic). (Vasmer, Etimologicheskij slovar’, II, 249; and Preobrazhensky, Etymological Dictionary, 315.)