When Napoleon said that "soup makes the soldier," he meant thick, substantial soup—soup that sticks to the ribs—not mere broths or meat extracts, which are fit only for invalids or to coax an indifferent stomach. "Soup," says Ness-muk, "requires time, and a solid basis of the right material. Venison is the basis, and the best material is the bloody part of the deer, where the bullet went through. We used to throw this away; we have learned better. Cut about four pounds of the bloody meat into convenient pieces, and wipe them as clean as possible with leaves ;r a damp cloth, but don't wash them. Put the meat into a five-quart kettle nearly filled with water, and raise it to a lively boiling pitch".
Here I must interfere. It is far better to bring the water gradually to a boil and then at once hang the kettle high over the fire where it will only keep up a moderate bubbling. There let it simmer at least two hours—better half a day. It is impossible to hasten the process. Furious boiling would ruin both the soup and the meat.
Nessmiik continues: "Have ready a three-tined fork made from a branch of birch or beech, and with this test the meat from time to time; when it parts readily from the bones, slice in a large onion. Pare six large, smooth potatoes, cut five of them into quarters, and drop them into the kettle; scrape the sixth one into the soup for thickening. Season with salt and white pepper to taste. When, by skirmishing with the wooden fork, you can fish up bones with no meat on them, the soup is cooked, and the kettle may be set aside to cool".
Any kind of game may be used in a similar way, provided that none but lean meat be used. Soup is improved by first soaking the chopped-up meat in cold water, and using this water to boil in thereafter. Soup should be skimmed for some time after it has started simmering, to remove grease and scum.
To any one who knows petite marmite or poule-au-pot, these simple directions will seem barbarous —and so they are; but barbarism has its compensations. A really first-class soup cannot be made without a full day's previous preparation and the resources of a city grocery. Mulligatawny, for example, requires thirty-two varieties of spices and other condiments. No start can be made with any standard soup until one has a supply of "stock" made of veal or beef, mutton or poultry, by long simmering and skimming and straining.
In camp, stock can be made expeditiously by cutting one or two pounds of venison into thin slices, then into dice, cover with cold water, boil gently twenty minutes, take from the fire, skim, and strain. A tolerable substitute is Liebig's beef extract dissolved in water.
Onion, cloves, mace, celery seed, salt, and red or white pepper, are used for seasoning. Sassafras leaves, dried before the fire and powdered, make the gumbo filé of the creóles. Recipes for, a few simple, nourishing soups, are given below:
Put the squirrels (not less than three) in a gallon of cold water, with a scant tablespoonful of salt. Cover the pot closely, bring to the bubbling point, and then simmer gently until the meat begins to be tender. Then add whatever vegetables you have. When the meat has boiled to a rag, remove the bones. Thicken the soup with a piece of butter rubbed to a smooth paste in flour. Season to taste.