Take three large onions, slice them very thin, and then fry to a bright brown in a large spoonful of either butter or stock-fat, the latter answering equally well. When brown, add half a teacupful of flour, and stir constantly until red. Then pour in slowly one pint of boiling water, stirring steadily till it is all in. Boil and mash fine four large potatoes, and stir into one quart of boiling milk, taking care that there are no lumps. Add this to the fried onions, with one teaspoonful of salt and half a teaspoonful of white pepper. Let all boil for five minutes, and then serve with toasted or fried bread. Simple as this seems, it is one of the best of the vegetable soups, though it is made richer by the use of stock instead of water.
Put a pint of sifted flour into a perfectly clean frying-pan, and stir and turn constantly as it darkens, till the whole is an even dark brown. If scorched at all, it is ruined, and should not be used for any purpose. As a coloring for soups and gravies it is by no means as good as caramel or burned sugar.
Half a pound of brown sugar; one tablespoonful of water. Put into a frying-pan, and stir steadily over the fire till it becomes a deep dark brown in color. Then add one cup of boiling water and one teaspoonful of salt. Boil a minute longer, bottle, and keep corked. One tablespoonful will color a clear soup, and it can be used for many jellies, gravies, and sauces.
* * * * *
The most essential point in choosing fish is their freshness, and this is determined as follows: if the gills are red, the eyes prominent and full, and the whole fish stiff, they are good; but if the eyes are sunken, the gills pale, and the fish flabby, they are stale and unwholesome, and, though often eaten in this condition, lack all the fine flavor of a freshly-caught fish.
The fish being chosen, the greatest care is necessary in cleaning. If this is properly done, one washing will be sufficient: the custom of allowing fresh fish to lie in water after cleaning, destroys much of their flavor.
Fresh-water fish, especially the cat-fish, have often a muddy taste and smell. To get rid of this, soak in water strongly salted; say, a cupful of salt to a gallon of water, letting it heat gradually in this, and boiling it for one minute; then drying it thoroughly before cooking.