To make crystal-clear consommé the stock should be clarified with egg whites and shells: these trap in a scum particles which might otherwise cloud the stock. Egg whites also remove flavour so more must be added in the form of fresh meat and vegetables – use 1 small onion, 1 carrot and 1stick of celery, all chopped finely, plus 250g (8oz) very lean minced beef to every 1.8litres (3pints) cold beef stock.
Put the thoroughly degreased stock in a very clean saucepan with the meat, vegetables and some salt and black peppercorns.
Add the lightly whisked whites and crushed shells of 2 eggs to the pan, then slowly bring to the boil, whisking constantly. A scummy froth will form.
Stop whisking when the froth is quite firm and covers the top of the pan. Allow the soup to boil through the crust on a medium boil for 20 minutes.
Line a colander with a double layer of clean wet muslin and set it over a large bowl. You can also use a jelly bag. Lift the crust into the centre of the colander using a large perforated skimming spoon, then slowly pour the soup through it into the bowl.
If the consommé is not absolutely clear, you can pour it through the crust again in to a clean bowl. Stir in 1 or 2 spoonfuls of sherry or Madeira and some finely chopped herbs. Serve hot or chilled. If chilled, lightly chop the consommé.