Good Calf’s Head Soup

Not Expensive



  • shin of beef, 6 to 7 lbs.
  • water, 5 quarts:
  • stewed down (with vegetables, &c.) till reduced nearly half.
  • boned half-head with skin on stewed in stock: 1½ hour.


  • stock, 5 pints
  • tongue, skin of head, and part of flesh: 15 to 40 minutes, or more if not quite tender.
  • Rice-flour, 6 to 8 oz.
  • cayenne, quarter-teaspoonful
  • mace, twice as much
  • mushroom catsup, ½ wineglassful: 10 minutes.
  • Sherry, 2 wineglassesful,
  • forcemeat-balls, 20 to 30.


Stew down from six to seven pounds of the thick part of a shin of beef with a little lean ham, or a slice of hung beef, or of Jewish beef, trimmed free from the smoky edges, in five quarts of water until reduced nearly half, with the addition, when it first begins to boil, of an ounce of salt, a large bunch of savoury herbs, one large onion, a head of celery, three carrots, two or three turnips, two small blades of mace, eight or ten cloves, and a few white or black peppercorns. Let it boil gently that it may not be too much reduced, for six or seven hours, then strain it into a clean pan and set it by for use. Take out the bone from half a calf’s head with the skin on (the butcher will do this if desired), wash, roll, and bind it with a bit of tape or twine, and lay it into a stewpan, with the bones and tongue; cover the whole with the beef stock, and stew it for an hour and a half; then lift it into a deep earthen pan and let it cool in the liquor, as this will prevent the edges from becoming dry or discoloured. Take it out before it is quite cold; strain, and skim all the fat carefully from the stock; and heat five pints in a large clean saucepan, with the head cut into small thick slices or into inch-squares. As quite the whole will not be needed, leave a portion of the fat, but add every morsel of the skin to the soup, and of the tongue also. Should the first of these not be perfectly tender, it must be simmered gently till it is so; then stir into the soup from six to eight ounces of fine rice-flour mixed with a quarter-teaspoonful of cayenne, twice as much freshly pounded mace, half a wineglassful of mushroom catsup,* and sufficient cold broth or water to render it of the consistence of batter; boil the whole from eight to ten minutes; take off the scum, and throw in two glasses of sherry; dish the soup and put into the tureen some delicately and well fried forcemeat-balls made by the receipt No. 1, 2, or 3. A small quantity of lemon-juice or other acid can be added at pleasure. The wine and forcemeat-balls may be omitted, and the other seasonings of the soup a little heightened. As much salt as may be required should be added to the stock when the head first begins to boil in it: the cook must regulate also by the taste the exact proportion of cayenne, mace, and catsup, which will flavour the soup agreeably. The fragments of the head, with the bones and the residue of the beef used for stock, if stewed down together with some water and a few fresh vegetables, will afford some excellent broth, such as would be highly acceptable, especially if well thickened with rice, to many a poor family during the winter months.

* Unless very good and pore in flavour, we cannot recommend the addition of this or of any other catsup to soup or gravy.