Extract of Beef; or, Very Strong Plain Beef Gravy Soup

Baron Liebeg’s Receipt

Observation.—This admirable preparation is not only most valuable as a restorative of the best kind for invalids who require light but highly nutritious diet, it is also of the utmost utility for the general purposes of the kitchen, and will enable a cook who can take skilful advantage of it, to convert the cold meat which often abounds so inconveniently in an English larder, from our habit of having joints of large size so much served, into good nourishing dishes, which the hashes and minces of our common cookery are not, though they may answer well enough as mere varieties of diet. We shall indicate in the proper chapters the many other uses to which this beef juice—for such indeed it is—will be found eminently adapted. Of its value in illness it is impossible to speak too highly; and in every family, therefore, the exact mode of making it ought to be thoroughly understood. The economist who may consider it expensive, must remember that drugs and medical advice are usually far more so; and in cases of extreme debility the benefit derived from it, when it is well prepared and judiciously administered, is often remarkable. It should be given in small quantities at first, and in its pure state. It may afterwards be varied by the addition of vermicelli, semoulina, or other preparations of the kind; and also by using for it a portion of mutton, calf’s head, poultry, or game, when these suit a patient as well as the beef.

Receipt.—Take a pound of good, juicy beef (rumpsteak is best for the purpose), from which all the skin and fat that can possibly be separated from it, has been cut away. Chop it up small like sausage-meat; then mix it thoroughly with an exact pint of cold water, and place it on the side of the stove to heat very slowly indeed; and give it an occasional stir. It may stand two or three hours before it is allowed to simmer, and will then require at the utmost but fifteen minutes of gentle boiling. Professor Liebeg directs even less time than this, but the soup then occasionally retains a raw flavour which is distasteful. Salt should be added when the boiling first commences, and for invalids, this, in general, is the only seasoning required. When the extract is thus far prepared, it may be poured from the meat into a basin, and allowed to stand until any particles of fat it may exhibit on the surface can be skimmed off entirely, and the sediment has subsided and left the soup quite clear (which it speedily becomes), when it may be poured gently off, heated in a clean saucepan, and served at once. It will contain all the nutriment which the meat will yield. The scum should always be well cleared from the surface of the soup as it accumulates.

To make light beef tea or broth, merely increase the proportion of water to a pint and a half or a quart; but in all else proceed as above.

Read more


  • Meat, (without fat or skin), 1 lb.
  • cold water, exact pint: heating 2 hours or more: to boil 15 minutes at the utmost.
  • Beef tea or Beef broth broth.—Beef, 1 lb.
  • water, pint or 1 quart.


Obs.—To mingle vegetable diet in its best form with this extract, it will be sufficient, as we have explained in “Cookery for Invalids,” to boil down the kind of vegetable desired, sliced or cut up small, in a very moderate quantity of water, until its juices are well drawn out; then to strain off the liquid from it with slight pressure, and, when it has become cold, to pour it to the chopped meat instead of water. Several different sorts can be mixed together, and cooked in this way: the water must boil before they are added to it.

They should be much more tender than when merely boiled for table, but not reduced to pulp. The juice should remain clear; no salt should be added; and it should be quite cold before it is stirred to the meat.

When the extract is wanted for gravy, a small portion of onion, and of herbs, carrots, celery, and the other usual vegetables, may be stewed together, to give it the requisite flavour.

About an inch square of the Jewish beef (Foreign Cookery), whether cooked or uncooked, will impart a fine savour to it; the smoked surface of this should be pared off before it is used, and it may be added in thin slices.