Soups are a very pleasant prelude to a meal, but with the advent of tinned soups, the art of making them is almost a lost one in this country. More often than not the attempt at home-made soups results in what my friend, Marcel Boulestin, describes as something " thin and anaemic, full of nondescript flotsam and jetsam of doubtful origin and faded flavour." Although the word " soup " is of Germanic origin, France, I think, may be called the home of soups—such a variety of them, all so delicious and tasty, nourishing and economical!
First of all I will give you the recipe for the famous Pot-au-Feu, which is a meal in itself, as the soup meat can be eaten separately.
3 to 4 lb. of either topside of beef or fresh silverside, beef bones, 1 calves foot (optional), 2 large onions, 1/2 a lb. of carrots, 1/2 a lb. of turnips, 2 bay leaves, a bouquet of mixed herbs (thyme, marjoram, fennel, rosemary, parsley), salt and pepper.
Put the meat and bones in an iron saucepan, in which they should fit rather closely. Just cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Skim carefully. Now add the vegetables, which should be sliced, the herbs and seasoning. Simmer very gently for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or till the meat is quite tender, but not overdone. Remove the meat, strain a little of the soup over it and garnish with the vegetables, and eat as a separate course. Let the bones simmer for another hour or so, then strain the soup through a piece of butter muslin into a basin. Keep in a cool place, and when set in a jelly remove the fat which has risen to the surface. It is then ready for use. Time : 4 to 5 hours.