Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Day 32-33

The last two days we have been focusing on soups. We produced a classic consomme, New England clam chowder, and French onion soup. 

A consomme is a perfectly clear soup that has been clarified through a fining process involving the use of egg proteins.

 You basically whip eggs into a cloud-like oblivion and then mix them with tiny diced vegetables (leeks, celery, tomato, carrots, onion, parsley, etc) and ground meat (we used chicken because the leaner meat helps in the clarifying process). Then you pour the mixture into a pot of cold chicken stock and bring the mixture to a simmering boil. The mixture on top creates a raft: sort of like an egg white omelet that attracts all of the impurities and particles in the liquid below creating a perfectly clear soup. 

It's a pretty neat process. After you are done clarifying you strain the soup through cheesecloth and a chinois (strainer) to ensure perfect clarity. To serve the soup you garnish it with tiny brunoise cuts of the vegetables you used to infuse flavor in the soup.

When it comes to the French onion soup the secret is making sure that you don't rush the caramelization  process of the onions. Also if you add a little bit of salt to the onions when you begin cooking them it helps to draw out the moisture which contains the sugars which are needed for caramelization to take place. 

More soups tomorrow...!

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