Consomme is a clear, strong broth often served as the first course of French meals. Consomme is made from stock but is clarified by straining the stock. It can be made from traditional meat stocks or from vegetables. Stock itself is made from lengthy cooking, particularly of vegetables or the bones of meat in order to yield a broth.

Traditionally consomme also has egg whites added to it when the stock is cold. The consomme is then reheated and impurities are theoretically supposed to stick to the egg whites. Once the consomme is fully hot, the egg whites tend to form foam at the top. This is pushed to the side and the consomme is then strained again. The result is a clear golden to brown soup.

Double consomme is reduced by half of the original broth, which generally yields a very highly flavored final soup. This takes a little longer to prepare, but many gourmets find the experience well worth it. The rich and intense flavor of a double consomme is hard to match.

Nevertheless, stock when prepared must be…

  • full-flavoured but not excessively salty;
  • free from fat and well strained;
  • clear, as cloudy stocks do not clear well.

Utensils should be spotlessly clean. Scald if necessary and have clean Tammy and stand on hand for final process. Straining must be carried out with the utmost care. The liquid should be carefully ladled over the filter which has been removed on the clearing of the consomme.

Additives

  • Meats, minced: they aid the clarification by the coagulation of the albumen present in the meat precipitating the fine solid in the stock. The meats also add flavour.
  • Egg white and shell: the albumen present aids in the precipitation of the solid particles and the formation of the filter. The white crust once formed must not be broken.
  • Wines: the addition of sherry and Madeira called for in many recipes improves flavour.
  • Vegetables: extra vegetables add flavour but they must not be allowed to break up during cooking.

Garnishes

These are many and vary greatly. They include the following:

  • Vegetables – cut into assorted shapes.
  • Royales – cut into assorted shapes.
  • Pastas – alphabets, vermicelli, etc.
  • Sago and tapioca.
  • Pastry – choux and puff – profiteroles and cheese straws.
  • Pancakes – julienne.
  • Chiffonade's.

Classical Variations

  • Brunoise – vegetables cut into tiny dice.
  • Celestine – julienne of herb-flavoured pancakes.
  • aux chevaux d'anges – very small vermicelli and parmesan cheese separately.
  • a la grande duchesse – julienne of chicken, tongue and asparagus heads.
  • a l'inclienne – curry flavour, diced royale made with coconut milk; boiled rice separately.
  • Julienne – match-like shreds of assorted vegetables.
  • Mimosa – pink, green and yellow royale.
  • a la niyoise – tomato flavour, dice of tomatoes, French beans, potatoes and chervil shreds.
  • Paysanne – triangle of carrot, turnip, peas and chervil shreds.
  • Printanier – balls of carrot, turnip, peas and chervil shreds.
  • Profiteroles – small cheese-flavoured choux balls.
  • queue de boeuf – flavour oxtail, julienne of carrots, turnips and oxtail.
  • Royal – chicken flavour, shapes of royale.
  • Royale Elizabeth – shapes of royale and asparagus tips.

Use of Garnishes

  • Pastas – 75g to the litre. Cook for five minutes in boiling salted water, strain, refresh and finish cooking in the consomme.
  • Sago and tapioca – 75g to the litre. Boil until clear in a little consomme or water, strain and add to consomme.
  • Chiffonade – should be shredded finely after having removed the ribs and veins. Add to the simmering consomme before serving.
  • Royale – a savoury egg custard cooked in shallow containers and then cut into shapes:
  • Plain – yolk and white cooked separately.
  • Cream – addition of cream to the yolks.
  • Chicken – finely pounded chicken added.
  • Fish – finely pounded fish added.
  • Carrot – finely pounded carrot added.

Serving Consomme

  • Ensure that the serving plates are hot because clear soups cool rapidly.
  • Ensure you use a service plate.