What Is Clear Soup And How Do You Make It

It is served simply — in a cup with a garnish of finely sliced or julienned vegetables. And at first glance, you might dismiss the shimmery soup set in front of you as just another cup of amber-colored water. But one sip of what you might have thought of as broth may make you realize that there is more than meets the eye — because the clear soup, more popularly known as consomme, is a serving of concentrated flavor masked by simplicity (via The Spruce Eats).

Some folks get consomme and broth confused, but Masterclass says that consomme is actually made from broth or stock. There are five kinds of consomme, in fact: veal (dark, made from veal stock); beef (dark, derived from beef broth or stock); chicken (light, made with chicken broth or stock); fish (light, made with fish stock); and tomato (made with vegetables). Ironically, tomato stock is nearly colorless, thanks to a special process designed to draw the impurities out of the broth to make consomme or clear soup.

Consomme is made with broth or stock

Ruhlman says the word "consomme" is a play on words, because in French, the word can mean consummate or perfect; it can also mean finished, which makes particular sense because you can think of consomme as the product that comes after stock. To make a good consomme or clear soup, Masterclass suggests you start with a good flavorful stock (which hasn't become too cloudy), but which may need to be boiled down or reduced. From there, fat can be removed by skimming it off the top after it has congealed and the broth has cooled down.

Once you've removed the congealed fat, Masterclass says you'll want to take egg whites and whisk them until they are frothy; and if you want to add extra ingredients and flavoring, you'll need to get them ready, because the egg whites, flavoring, and the extra ingredients will need to be added to the soup stock at the same time. 

From there, boil the stock and then bring it down to the simmer, allowing impurities to float to the top, and stir. In the 30 to 60 minutes it takes to cook consomme or clear soup, the egg white congeals to become a raft which catches the impurities. Once the consomme is ready, the liquid, which is full of collagen goodness, is strained through a cheesecloth and served hot. When consomme cools down, the collagen in the broth turns the liquid into a cold, savory jelly called aspic.