Home Comfort Cookbook - Soups & Chowders
With the Fall, cool weather creeping slowly upon us and Winter to follow, who does not crave a bowl of soup or chowder to help keep them warm, cozy and . . . it works on a light budget, which many of us have tried to accustomed themselves and their families.
This week's issue of The OkieLegacy brings you some tips that your ancestors might have utilized, practiced to perfection back in the 1930's when they were also on a tight budget and using their Wrought Iron Ranges, with their Home Comfort Cookbook flopped open to a particular page.
Soups and Chowders -- Soups may be classified as being either "clear" or "thick." The latter containing vegetables, cream, starch, or other thickening materials. They may also be classified as those with or without meat -- these being usually named from their predominating vegetable or flavor.
Soups afford a valuable means of utilizing, at small cost, the rich mutation to be extracted from the bones, joints, cheaper cuts, and trimmings of meats, as well as the rich juices of meats and vegetables left over from boiling, that are often discarded and wasted. The economical housewife will use these rich extracts by converting them into "stock," from which she may, on short notice, prepare any of a wide variety of good, wholesome soups.
The proper handling of "stock" is the basic essential of all good soups, and this is covered by a few well defined general rules:
Beef, veal, and poultry are meats best adapted to the making of good soup-stock, and may be used separately or in combination. Mutton and lamb also may be used, but sparingly, owing to their strong flavor.
Stock should contain, in combination: The gelatin from bones, gristle, and tendons portions; the savory extracts from the meats; a certain amount of fat; and, the acid salts and alkaline from fresh meats. Care must be taken to avoid any material of doubtful purity and freshness.
A stock-pot may be kept on the back of the range-top, in which such bits of bone or meat may be accumulated through the day. These are then turned into stock while fresh -- all meat and bones must be cut or broken into small pieces.
Cold water, with a little salt added, should always be used in extracting the juices from the meats. Hot water quickly hardens the outer albumen, thus preventing the extraction of the essential juices, while cold water readily dissolves this albumen, as well as other juices, and the salt -- not much -- aids in their extraction.
The stock-pot, with with cold water and materials, is placed in position and allowed to slowly reach the boiling-point, and is then set back to simmer until the juices are sufficiently extracted.
In cold weather, left-over vegetables may safely be added to the stock-pot; but, in warm weather, these are inclined to sour, and shold always be freshly cooked and added to stock when soup is made.
Floating fats and solids should be skimmed off before the stock is set aside or allowed to cool; or, before cooling, the stock should be strained off into a clean vessel. Do not leave it in the stock-pot over night.
Stock may be used the following day, or may be kept for several days by placing in a glass fruit-jar and kept in a cool place.
If all nourishment has not been extracted from the meats, they may be used in a second stock, but it will usually be necessary to add some fresh materials to bring up to full strength. Bones, especially, may be used in second stock.
Left-over soups may be strained, and the liquid included in the next stock.
In hot weather, left-over stock should be brought to the boiling-point every day, and poured into a clean vessel to prevent souring.
When clear soups -- as consomme -- are required, the floating film of excess fat may be removed by passing absorbent, or blotting paper lightly over the surface.
Soups should not be allowed to boil again, after the addition of such thickening materials as eggs, milk, or starch.
Soups and broths of fish may be made either from the whole fish or from stock made from the bones, skins and trimmings of white fish. These should be broken into small bits and the stock well strained. As the flavor is stronger, and the juices more easily extracted than of domestic meats, a somewhat larger proportion of water should be used.
Chowder is, in reality, a thickened soup closely approaching the stew; however, the term is generally accepted as applying to such dishes made from various vegetable, fish and seafoods. By following the recipes, anyone may make perfect chowders; however, a wide range of variation is permissible and one must be governed by the materials at hand.
Pastry In Soups
Noodles, macaroni and vermicelli are always nice additions to almost any soup. By boiling these products in any kind of good soup stock, Noodle Soup, Vermicelli Coup, etc, is made in the plain form; however, many variations will suggest themselves.
Macaroni is especially adapted to beef and vegetable soups. Vermicelli is a valuable addition to chicken soup, or clear, rich soup of any kind that is served in the smaller quantities. These pastries should, in most cases, be swelled by standing in luke-warm water for a time before putting into the soup.
From 1 quart good strong soup stock, skim all fat from the surface; put in a stew pan, and add the white and clean shell of 1 egg beaten thoroughly with 1 tablespoon cold water; place over fire and heat gradually, constantly stirring to prevent egg from sticking to the pan; boil gently until egg rises to surface in thick white scum and stock becomes clear under the egg; remove egg, and filter stock through folded napkin or cloth laid on a colander, but do not move or squeeze it through, allowing it to pass through naturally; season with salt and serve while hot.
Mock Turtle Soup
This next recipe has nothing to do with turtles. Have you ever heard your ancestors talk of Mock Turtle Soup? Was it favorably? What did they mention about this unique delicacy? Let me know if this gets too gruesome!
Let someone besides yourself clean a calf-head, removing brains and tongue shoal, the meat from the bone, and chopping the bone into several pieces; put all to soak separately in salt-water for several minutes to bleach; use brain and tongue for separate dishes, turning meat and bone into soup.
Put a stock kettle with about 1 gallon cold water and the bone, head-meat, tongue, half a bunch of parsley, half a stalk of celery, one large bay leaf, three cloves, half an inch of a stick of cinnamon, six whole allspice, six peppercorns, half of a large carrot, and one turnip. When the tongue is tender take out, to be served as a separate dish. Leave in the flesh for about two hours, when it will be perfectly tender. let the bones, etc., simmer for six hours, then strain and put stock away until the next day.
At the same time that the calf's head is cooking in one vessel, make a stock in another, with a small beef or veal soup bone, and any scraps of poultry (it would be improved with a hickey added; and one might take this opportunity to have a boiled chicken for dinner, cooking it in the stock); put into two or three quarts of water, and simmer until reduced to a pint.
The next day remove fat and settlings from the two stocks.
Put into a two-quart pan 2 tablespoons butter and when it bubbles stir in an ounce of ham, cut in strips, and 2 tablespoons of flour, stirring it constantly until it gets quite brown; pour the reduced stock over it, mix well, and strain it.
Now, to half a pound of calf's head cut into dice add one quart of calf's-head stock boiling hot, the pint of reduced and thickened stock, and the juice of half a lemon. When it is about to boil set it to one side and skim it very carefully. And the head-meat cut in dice, and two hard-boiled eggs cut in dice, and salt; serve.
As For Cleaning Calf-head: Cut from between the ears to the nose, touching the bone, then cutting close to it, take off all the flesh. Turn over the head, cut open the jaw bone from underneath, and take out the tongue whole. Turn the head back again, crack the top of the skull between the ears, and take out the brains whole; they should be saved for a separate dish.
Next week's Home Comfort cookbook recipes for soup may add a bit of Creole, Mexican and Ox-tail Soup. Does that sound awesome or gruesome?
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