Mock Turtle Soup.
Prepare a quantity of strong, clear, highly-flavoured stock of a greenish-brown colour. The colour can be obtained by boiling some winter greens or spinach along with the other things. A few chopped gherkins, capers, or chillies will give the required piquancy. Have 4 ozs. tapioca soaked overnight, add to the boiling stock and cook gently till perfectly clear. Some small quenelles may be poached separately and put in tureen.
When this soup is well made it is a general favourite, but it must be well made, for it is impossible to appreciate the greasy, yellow, dish-water-looking liquid which is sometimes served in that name.
Put in a saucepan 2 ozs. butter, and into that shred finely 1/2 or 1 lb. onions. Add half or more of a tin of tomatoes or about 1 lb. fresh ones sliced, and a cup of water or stock. Simmer very gently for an hour and rub through a wire sieve, pressing with the back of a wooden spoon to get all the pulp through. Everything should go through except the skin and seeds. Return to clean saucepan with stock or water, and two tablespoonfuls of tapioca, previously soaked for at least an hour. Stir till it boils and is quite clear. This soup may be varied in many ways, as by substituting for the tapioca, crushed vermicelli, ground rice, cornflour, &c. Some chopped spring onions, chives or leeks, added after straining are a great improvement, also chopped parsley, while many people like the addition of milk or cream.
“We live not upon what we eat, but upon what we digest.”
We come now to consider the middle courses of dinner in which lies the crux of the difficulty to the aspirant who wishes to contrive such without recourse to the flesh-pots. This is where, too, we must find the answer to those half-curious wholly sceptical folks who ask us, “Whatever do you have for dinner?” Most of them will grant that we may get a few decent soups, though no doubt they retain a sneaking conviction that at best these are “unco wersh,” and puddings or sweets are almost exclusively vegetarian. But how to compensate for that little bit of chicken, ox, or pig—no one now-a-days owns to taking much meat!—is beyond the utmost efforts of their imagination. Of course we can’t have everything. When a “reformed” friend of mine was asserting that we could have no end of delicacies, one lady triumphantly remarked “Anyhow, you can’t have a leg of mutton.” That is true, but then we must remember that it’s not polite to speak of “legs,” especially with young ladies learning cooking. Liver or kidneys are not particularly nice things to speak about either, and I am sure if we reflected on what their place is in the economy of the body, we should think them still less nice to eat.