To Thicken Soups


Except for white soups, to which arrow-root is, we think, more appropriate, we prefer, to all other ingredients generally used for this purpose, the finest and freshest rice-flour, which, after being passed through a lawn sieve, should be thoroughly blended with the salt, pounded spices, catsup, or wine, required to finish the flavouring of the soup. Sufficient liquid should be added to it very gradually to render it of the consistence of batter, and it should also be perfectly smooth; to keep it so, it should be moistened sparingly at first, and beaten with the back of a spoon until every lump has disappeared. The soup should boil quickly when the thickening is stirred into it, and be simmered for ten minutes afterwards. From an ounce and a half to two ounces of rice-flour will thicken sufficiently a quart of soup.

Instead of this, arrow-root or the condiment known by the name of tous les mois, which greatly resembles it, or potato flour, or the French thickening called roux (see Chapter V.), may be used in the following proportions:—Two and a half ounces of either of the first three, to four pints and a half of soup; to be mixed gradually with a little cold stock or water, stirred into the boiling soup, and simmered for a minute.

Six ounces of flour with seven of butter, made into a roux, or merely mixed together with a large knife, will be required to thicken a tureen of soup; as much as half a pound is sometimes used; these must be added by degrees, and carefully stirred round in the soup until smoothly blended with it, or they will remain in lumps. We would, however, recommend any other thickening rather than this unwholesome mixture.

All the ingredients used for soups should be fresh, and of good quality, particularly Italian pastes of every kind (macaroni, vermicelli, &c.), as they contract, by long keeping, a peculiarly unpleasant, musty flavour.

Onions, freed from the outer skin, dried gradually to a deep brown, in a slow oven, and flattened like Norfolk biffins, will keep for almost any length of time, and are extremely useful for heightening the colour and flavour of broths and gravies.*

* The fourth part of one these dried onions (des ognons brûlés), of moderate size, is sufficient for a tureen of soup. They are sold very commonly in France, and may be procured in London at many good foreign warehouses.