General guidelines for cooking a good bouillon

(Page 25, Section 1)

a) Stock pot. You should have a clean pot that is only used for cooking soup. Tinware with a tightly closing lid is highly recommended, or glazed iron pots.

b) Baking soda. To quickly soften legumes, or fresh peas that have gotten hard, add 1/2 – 1 tsp of baking soda [to the pot] when boiling.

c) Selection of meat. Although beef is preferred for roasts, it is less well-suited for soups. Nevertheless, beef soup has a delightful flavor [feiner Geschmack].

Meat used in soups must be fresh, preferably from the day before. If the meat is the least bit gamey, the soup will be unpalatable.

d) Suitable piece [of meat]. If one is more interested in a pungent bouillon than in a succulent piece of meat (as is often the case with a community meal, where the meat used in the soup is not served), one can take a boneless piece from the hindquarters with the fat removed – this means that less meat will be required. No matter how dry this piece of meat is, it is suitable [for soup]. For example, one can add cooked fatty ham or bacon [to this meat after it has been removed from the soup], and add the mixture to regular meatballs [Frikadellen, alternately ground meat patties] or to scrapple [Panhas] (see recipes for meat dishes), which makes a very good and inexpensive dish for the everyday table.

However, if the meat is to be served [as a course] following soup, or as a side dish, a marbled piece [of meat] is preferable. Any joint of meat including ribs is suitable for that, especially chuck or tenderloin. For the everyday table, one would do well to break up the ribs a little in advance, and have the bones [i.e., ribs] cut up in several pieces for a side dish.

e) Handling the meat. Gently wash the meat. Do not soak it in water, because that will cause the meat to lose its flavor. Then pound the piece [of meat] (see Meat section for further instructions). Meat does not lose any flavor when it is pounded and then cooked in already-boiling (instead of cold) water. Pounded meat also is significantly milder and juicier, and becomes tender half an hour sooner than unpounded meat.

The foam [Schaum – the stuff that floats to the top when cooking meat] should not be skimmed here either, same as it is not skimmed when roasting or braising. Of course, most of the “foam” largely stays with the meat, and as we know, the “foam” is nothing more than protein [Eiweißstoff], that is, it is not an impurity.

When preparing the water for the soup, one must take care to have a sufficient quantity of water, because adding water to the soup causes it to lose too much [flavor]. In unforeseen cases when one must add water, one should not use cold water, but rather boiling water.

f) Salting. Salt also must be added [when one commences to cook the soup]. However, one should not add too much salt in the beginning, as one may easily add salt later. But one cannot remove too much. An oversalted soup is no credit to a cook, but rather an oversalted soup is evidence of ignorance or absentmindedness.

g) Skimming. Above all, one may not deem skimming as inconsequential. To do this properly, once must bring the soup to a rapid boil over high heat, because that is what causes the “foam”to concentrate. If one does not do so, the “foam” will be distributed throughout the bouillon and cannot be completely removed. One may not miss the moment when the “foam” rises; therefore it is advisable to have the skimming spoon close at hand.

If the “foam” has boiled thoroughly [and cannot be skimmed], one should add a bit of cold water [to the pot], which will cause it to reappear. After one has skimmed the “foam” from the soup, a few finely chopped onions should be added, augmenting the flavor. A red onion will give the bouillon a yellowish color.

h) Cooking the soup. Both bouillon and meat soups should be cooked tightly covered over low heat (should not boil fast). One should not remove the lid. However, the soup should boil slowly as it cooks (should not be allowed to cool), as this will make the meat more tender and the soup more stout [kräftig].

After the soup has cooked for about an hour, one should take the precaution of running the bouillon through a clean hair sieve [Haarsieb]. Then rinse the meat, since it will usually still have a bit of foam on it. Slowly strain the bouillon back into the washed pot, and add the [rinsed] meat. Cook [slowly] over low heat with the specified spices.

i) Ingredients. Soup herbs. When a piece of celery root is cooked in the meat soup, it gives the soup a pleasant flavor. If one wishes to use a large amount of celery root, it is advisable to first cook it well in water before adding to the soup, so the celery flavor will not overwhelm the flavor of the bouillon. For this reason, it is not advisable to use a lot of soup herbs (including celery leaves), since otherwise the bouillon will not be stout and tasty. In a weak meat or potato soup, however, such herbs are quite suitable.

Parsley and scozonera roots can be added to the broth an hour after skimming. It takes about 1-1/2 hours for these two herbs to cook till soft, about 3/4 – 1 hour for celery roots, same for leeks and asparagus. See introductory section for instructions on slicing roots.

k) Thickeners. If one wishes to add a little flour to thicken a meat or potato soup, one must first saute the flour with butter (see introductory section for instructions). However, one may also knead a little flour with fresh butter, make a little dumpling out of it, and add it to the broth once it has been strained. It will completely dissolve and will make the soup pleasant and thick. The first option [saute] has the advantage of giving the soup a more pungent flavor. One should not, however, add raw flour to a meat soup. If one does this with a potato soup, the raw flour will make the soup unpalatable.

If the bouillon is to be cooked rather pungently for a community meal, and several other dishes [courses] will follow it, it is customary to serve it clear with mirepoix [a mixture of celery roots, onions, and carrots] and dumplings. Additionally, one does better if one thickens the soup with pearl barley or rice; the rice must already be cooked. Sago or shaped noodles [e.g. elbow macaroni] are usually used with a pungent bouillon.

l) Amount and cooking time for pearl barley, rice, sago and shaped noodles. For 4 servings, one can use two heaping teaspoons of either pearl barley or rice, when the soup is cooked as in i) above, if the soup is intended to be thick. For a clear bouillon, use about half that amount of sago or shaped noodles. Pearl barley and real sago should cook in the soup 2-1/2 to 3 hours, rice 1 – 1-1/4 hours, potato sago (can be recognized by its small round granules) 3/4 – 1 hour, shaped noodles and vermicelli 1/2 hour.

m) Dumplings. If one wishes to cook dumplings in the bouillon or soup, one should first take the meat out. Place it in a hot bowl, pour 2 – 3 TBS of soup over it, afterwards a little finely ground salt, and cover the bowl until the soup is ready to serve. If the soup has already thickened, it would be better to cook the dumplings in salted water and then add them to the soup, because otherwise they could easily become too hard.

n) Flavor enhancers. To make a weak soup more pungent and very flavorful, it is helpful to add a pinch of Liebig’s Meat Extract before serving. As already noted, good flavorful soups can be prepared without meat.

If one doesn’t have any meat extract, one may also add a little roast gravy. The following is the recommended preparation of that gravy. Put a little butter in a casserole dish. Add a little lightly smoked raw ham, plus 1 – 2 coarsely chopped onions, and when possible, two kinds of meat scraps. Roast until a brownish layer has formed, skim off the fat, add boiling water to cover the meat. [Cook] and skim off the “foam”. Add half of a celery root, 1 yellow root [hydrastis], parsley roots, and cook for several hours. Strain everything through a sieve. Use this gravy to give the soup a pleasant and pungent taste, as well as a nice color.

All meat soups must be served hot.

[Note throughout: Kraft when referring to meat is literally power. Kraftbrühe is beef bouillon, for example. I think today we would say something like, doesn’t lose flavor and vitamins. Translated here as flavor.]


One thought on “General guidelines for cooking a good bouillon

  1. Re Liebig’s Meat Extract: Justus Freiherr von Liebig (May 12, 1803 – April 18, 1873) was a groundbreaking chemist. Here is a Popular Science article about him, from 1892:

    He was ahead of his time, and we should alternately thank him for some of his discoveries, as well as recognize that he started the manipulation of foodstuffs that we’re now trying to slow down.

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