This soup, or broth as we should perhaps designate it in England, is made once or twice in the week, in every family of respectability in France; and by the poorer classes as often as their means will enable them to substitute it for the vegetable or maigre soups, on which they are more commonly obliged to subsist. It is served usually on the first day with slices of untoasted bread soaked in it; on the second, it is generally varied with vermicelli, rice, or semoulina. The ingredients are, of course, often otherwise proportioned than as we have given them, and more or less meat is allowed according to the taste or circumstances of the persons for whom the bouillon is prepared; but the process of making it is always the same, and is thus described (rather learnedly) by one of the most skilful cooks in Europe: “The stock-pot of the French artisan,” says Monsieur Carême, “supplies his principal nourishment; and it is thus managed by his wife, who, without the slightest knowledge of chemistry, conducts the process in a truly scientific manner. She first lays the meat into an earthen stock-pot, and pours cold water to it in the proportion of about
It must be observed in addition, that as the meat of which the bouillon is made, is almost invariably sent to table, a part of the rump, the mouse-buttock, or the leg-of-mutton piece of beef, should be selected for it; and the simmering should be continued only until this is perfectly tender. When the object is simply to make good, pure-flavoured, beef broth, part of the shin or leg, with
Obs. 1.—This broth forms in France the foundation of all richer soups and gravies. Poured on fresh meat (a portion of which should be veal) instead of water, it makes at once an excellent consommé or strong jellied stock. If properly managed, it is very clear and pale; and with an additional weight of beef and some spoonsful of glaze may easily be converted into an amber-coloured gravy-soup, suited to modern taste.
Obs. 2.—It is a common practice abroad to boil poultry, pigeons, and even game, in the pot-au-feu or soup-pot.* They should be properly trussed, stewed in the broth just long enough to render them tender, and served, when ready, with a good sauce. A small ham, if well soaked, washed exceedingly clean, and freed entirely from any rusty or blackened parts, laid with the beef when the water is first added to it, and boiled from three hours and a half to four hours in the bouillon, is very superior in flavour to those cooked in water only, and infinitely improves the soup, which cannot however so well be eaten until the following day, when all the fat can easily be taker from it: it would, of course, require no salt.
* This is a large proportion of meat for the family of a French artisan; a pound to the quart would be nearer the reality; but it is not the refuse-meat which would be purchased by persona of the same rank in England fox making broth.
* In wealthy families the soup is boiled in a metal soup-pot, called a marmite.