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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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consommé meaning a clear soup, has been used in English since the early part of the 19th century, but has been a French culinary term since the 16th century. It is the past participle of the verb consommer, meaning to consume or accomplish or finish, and indicating in this context a ‘finished’ soup as opposed to a simple stock or broth. Double consommé is a clarified consommé.

Little fragments of this or that may be introduced into a consommé at some stage in its production, or just when serving, and the nature of these is, in classical French cookery, reflected in the name given to the consommé. Garrett (c.1895) gives nearly three dozen different recipes, but sensibly distances himself from any taxonomical discussion:

Several futile attempts have been made by gastronomers to classify Consommés, as they have also tried in vain to draw distinctions between broths, soups, Consommés, potages and bouillons; but as the receipts for what would be intermediaries of these classifications outnumber the classified soups themselves, it will not be advisable in this work to introduce such a useless arrangement.