How to Make a Basic Consommé

Four Methods:Stage 1: Making the StockStage 2: Refining the StockStage 3: Ice FiltrationStage 4: Serving Consommé

A consommé soup is a refined clear soup with a wide variety of flavors and styles. Few people make consommé soups these days, as the dish requires a lot of patience, easily outweighed by the modern convenience of just opening a tin or pack.

But with the revived interest in cooking from scratch, consommés are back in vogue. Fortunately, ice filtration makes short work of this old fashioned delicacy and you'll discover that the taste of the tinned product is not even close to the real thing you can now make at home easily.


Servings: This is a basic consommé that will serve four people from scratch

  • 1 liter (0.3 US gal) of clear stock. Usually rich chicken or beef are the main types used
  • 1 extra carrot, onion and celery stick, chopped
  • 2 peppercorns, 1 spice clove
  • 2 tomatoes, skinned and seeds removed, sliced
  • Optional garnishes: Vegetables such as carrot, onion, zucchini, mushrooms, turnip or swede cut into neat strips (about 50g per serve), parsley or other herb leaves, especially micro-herbs; bread sliced into neat shapes and toasted, etc.


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    Note that this article focuses on ways to make the job of consommé production quicker. For example, the steps cover using a slow cooker or a pressure cooker and ice filtration to make this timeless dish much less hassle.
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    Be aware that many cooks strive to make the soup as clear as possible. Various complicated methods exist for achieving this, which you might like to venture into at some point. Getting it absolutely clear is a classic, tasty and very impressive entrée and is worth making for the experience.

Method 1
Stage 1: Making the Stock

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    Decide if you want to make your own stock if you are not using a pre-made one. This recipe can easily be made over 1 or 2 days for homemade. In the next step, there is a link to a recipe to make your own stock from scratch.
    • If using a quality pre-made liquid one from a tetra-pack or a can, skip the next stage and move onto stage 8 after heating your stock first. However, it doesn't always turn out as clear or tasty as homemade consommé, unless you can find one labeled as consommé quality. Someone trained in cookery will always be able to spot a pre-made stock from a can or tetra-pack, so be selective where you use it.
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    Make a seafood, chicken or rich brown beef stock as per your recipe, or click on this recipe.

    If making a beef stock, ask your butcher to put aside the bones with some cartilage and purchase about 500g of shin meat extra (per litre) for using in the stock. (Both can be very cheaply sourced from the butcher). Roast the shin meat as per the recipe included with the bones here as it will add to the richness and flavour.

    The longer you cook a broth, the more moisture may evaporate as steam, leaving a richer soup. The trade off is the scent of the soup is its flavour and is frequently lost with the steam, while the herbs and spices leave a bitter or unpleasant taste. Rich broths cooked for a long time traditionally used to be served with rich tasting garnishes to re-boost the flavour, but it was a pretty tedious operation making a less than perfect result. Lighter broths cooked for less time tended to have a more delicate taste and were just as acceptable in a refined or delicate tasting context. In the past, as with today, the solution was to cook for less time, but to add more roasted shin meat to give the bigger flavour concentration.

    The herbs you use for the bouquet garni from the stock recipe should have both parsley, bay leaf and thyme (if they did not already).
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    Add the extra vegetables (not the optional garnishes), spices and tomato to the hot stock and allow to steep (just like when making tea) for 1 hour. Keep the stock hot but below boiling.A slow cooker on the LOW setting is also a great way to save time and work. It is essential to avoid boiling the stock for a consommé, keep it just below simmering, preferably around 80ºC / 176ºF. Pressure cookers are not ideal for making a traditional consommé, as they boil rapidly and break down the vegetables to a cloudy mush. However, you can save a lot of time with them and by skipping to the ice filtration method below, you'll still make a decent product. A heat diffuser is a very useful tool when cooking on a normal stove. Other options that can replicate a heat diffuser or be used instead of one include: 1. Placing the stock pan on the collar support of a wok, 2. Using a bain marie (double boiler) or a water bath and allowing the ingredients to steep. This is quite old fashioned as a method, as it is where the term "beef tea" comes from.
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    Stir the stock as little as possible when cooking on the stove top or the slow cooker. Stirring aids flavour development, but can make it cloudy. If you can avoid stirring it at all it would make the next stages easier as it allows more sediment to form and less particles in the broth. But, if you wish to stir, use a balloon whisk gently through the liquid without breaking up or disturbing the stock ingredients. Avoid boiling it to ensure the stock remains clear as possible.

Method 2
Stage 2: Refining the Stock

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    Allow the stock to cool OR skip to the alternative method of ice filtration as found below. Placing the stock in the fridge is also a good way to go, but ensure it does not affect other things in the fridge that must be kept cold such as desserts and a meaty stock should be kept far away from there. Allow the stock to both cool and the stock to sediment until the surface stock is clear. If you didn't disturb the sediment in the pot by stirring, then this does not take long. When it is at room temperature or cool, ladle the clear liquid gently into a jug or a clean saucepan without disturbing the sediment. Chill it until any fat has set into solid clumps. Don't rush the decanting stage; you may also find it easier to do it in batches, allowing the original stock-pot to sediment down further. Remove as much fat as possible. If it's possible to remove all the fat as a whole lump, you are lucky as it makes it easier than having to spend time scooping with a spoon. It is desirable to remove as much fat as possible, so the taste is clean in the mouth when the soup is consumed. The stock may also set as a weak jelly (due to the gelatinous proteins in the meat and bones). This can all be done in advance the day ahead and the stock can cook gently in the background while you cook other meals. Using a slow cooker provides a large convenience factor. If made correctly, it will be a clear, rich color. If it doesn't, then it still tastes fantastic as it is, but you can still use the ice filtration method.

Method 3
Stage 3: Ice Filtration

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    Pour your stock into a large, shallow freezer safe container, or ice cube tray with a good lid. Aim to keep the stock particles in the pan; however, it is not a problem if they go into the container. Freeze until solid. The purpose of the lid is to ensure that the flavour stays inside the frozen stock, and also to ensure it does not take or taint flavours from other foods nearby (such as ice cream).
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    Line a perforated tray, flat based colander, drum sieve, or other drainage utensil that has a flat base with cheesecloth or a clean fine weave tea-towel / dishcloth. Ideally, the container that you freeze the stock in should fit into the sieve or perforated tray lying flat. Then place this perforated tray onto another catchment container underneath. The container underneath the sieve or tray should be wide and deep enough to gather the fluid without spillage.
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    Remove your stock ice block from its original container and place into the lined drainage tray or sieve. Cover with cling film and put aside, preferably in the fridge overnight if you have time. Allow the block to melt and the stock will filter out, leaving ice and the fine particles that would make it cloudy in the cloth. For a richer stock, leave a higher portion of white ice (the coarse ice crystals that take the longest to melt), rather than let them dilute the stock. The white ice has little flavour. This method is fairly modern but gives an excellent clear fluid. You may have actually experienced this scientific trick if you have ever eaten a frozen icy-pole / ice-lolly and when it has started to soften, sucked out the sweet syrup, leaving the tasteless ice behind. You may also repeat this process to gain an increasingly concentrated syrup. You can freeze these in cubes as long term storage to add to a cup of hot water for a quick savoury pick-me-up, or for a person who is ill and cannot eat solid foods. You can also set this syrup using gelatine to dissolve in your guests bowl with hot water.
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    Reheat stock gently to serve. While this method is actually very low labour intensive - merely put it aside to melt, traditional purists feel the richer traditional consommé is a better product.

Method 4
Stage 4: Serving Consommé

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    Heat the stock/broth very gently for serving (without boiling) and taste for seasoning. It is rare but it may need a little salt, however adding fine pepper will make it cloudy which is why the extra peppercorns were added earlier. Prior to serving, organize your garnishes. Slice the vegetables as neatly as possible, or use a machine to do it for you, then poach, sauté or steam them gently until just tender. Pre-made stocks tend to be adequately seasoned before they are sold and need little extra seasoning, although can benefit with some herbs or lemon. There is a wide range of vessels to serve your consommé in, such as shot glasses for an appetizer with kirsch, champagne or brandy goblets for a more formal elegance, or a pure white bowl to allow the light to reflect through for a traditional touch. The dishes should be pre-warmed before use and add the other garnishes at the last minute before you enjoy the works of your effort. You may also serve it ice-cold as a jelly in warmer weather with the use of gelatine or agar-agar. The garnishes should steeped in iced water until crisp, and/or some fresh sliced salad herbs (such as chervil, mint, chives or other soft leaves) or a lemon slice.
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  • Trivia: In order to keep as clear a soup as possible, some traditional recipes go further and use stiffly beaten egg whites added to the stock to further filter out particles. The whites are beaten into a cool stock which is then warmed up. As the whites cook they "capture" extra particles and rise to the surface to be skimmed off and discarded. If you wish to do this, use 3 egg whites per litre and allow the eggs to poach for at least 10 minutes, (again without boiling) then skim and strain the stock. The benefit is a clearer soup, but imagine the loss of flavour that the egg whites will take and the eggy taste it will leave.
  • If looked after during making the stock makes the soup a pretty simple recipe, it just takes a long time to make, which is why it's better to have it cooking gently in the background. The more anxious you feel about it will make the dish seem harder than it is.


  • Avoid boiling the stock under all circumstances, the easiest method is to use a heat diffuser or the smallest burner/hob on a low setting.

Things You'll Need

  • Stock pot or large saucepan
  • Roasting pan (if making beef consommé)
  • Chopping board and knife
  • Measuring utensils
  • Large Bowl, ladle and cheesecloth or a clean linen tea towel
  • Balloon whisk
  • Serving utensils

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