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What Is Consomme?

Consomme is often served with Gruyere cheese.
French onion soup is a popular recipe using consomme.
Simmering leeks.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 23 July 2014
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Consomme is a clear, strong broth often served as the first course of French meals. It is made from stock but is clarified by straining. The broth 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 broth 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 broth 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 is hard to match.

A traditional French dish that uses this broth as a base is Consomme Brunoise. After the final straining, simmered leeks, carrots and celery are added to the soup and presented. Though one can use a vegetable stock, it is usually most often made with beef or chicken stock. Directions for serving Consomme Brunoise also suggest warming the bowls before ladling in the finished soup.

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A very popular recipe including consomme is French Onion Soup. Sautéed onions are added to rich brown beef consomme. Oven safe bowls are covered with grated cheese, preferably Swiss cheeses like Jarlsburg or Gruyere, and a large crouton often tops the dish. The soup is then finished in the oven so the cheese melts and turns golden. The result is greatly appreciated and is a staple of many fine restaurants throughout the US and Europe.

Consomme is typically used to make a clear chicken and noodle soup as well. Some cooks may prefer to add bits of chicken and other vegetables. Generally however, chicken noodle is clear golden broth with either thin or thick noodles added at the last minute.

If a cook has the time, making homemade consomme can be a rewarding experience. He or she can, however, shortcut the process by purchasing it premade. In some cases, the quality and flavor may be affected by an overabundance of salt, but reduced salt versions are often available in natural foods stores.

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Discuss this Article

anon305598
Post 7

@anon176824: Consomme is both an ingredient and a recipe just like stock. It can be made from scratch, but can also be bought ready made.

anon176824
Post 6

hey my friend keeps saying that consomme' is an ingredient. i say its' a recipe. who's right? me or her?

anon138389
Post 5

Making of Consomme is an act of love. It takes an extraordinary hand to not rush through the process. The final liquid gold will be well worth a day's pay. Peace out.

anon123855
Post 4

I just made a meat loaf and placed it in a bunt cake mold as it was too big for standard meat loaf pan. The open center is an ideal opportunity to fill with something after cooking. Does anyone have an idea what it could be? I think it would have to be able to be heated in order to serve with the meat loaf.

dega2010
Post 3

@apolo72: I have used beef boullion cubes as a substitute for homemade consommé when I have been in a hurry. When I do, I just add about 1 ½ tsp. of corn starch to it to thicken it just a bit.

apolo72
Post 2

I'm sure it's not as tasty as a fresh consomme, but I typically rely on boullion cubes.

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