Stock cubes (the fundamental ingredient for making a soup), used by soldiers

Soldiers' stew

These are the ancestors of the stock cube, used as a base for soups or to add flavour to rice and pasta. Feeding armies was a difficult business, and these tablets, which were easy to transport and did not go off, represented a quick meal solution, so long as the soldiers had water and fire.

Period Recipe

Take twenty pounds of beef, ten pounds of meat from an older veal calf, two young cockerels, and any other fowl you fancy. Chop the beef and veal into half-inch slices and spread them out in a large pan; mix in the chopped pieces of the cockerels. Dissolve two pounds of grated deer horn in four pints of boiling water until you get a clear and very thick solution; drain through a clean cloth and add the liquid to your large pan, topping it up with fresh water.  Seal the lid with pastry and boil slowly for ten to twelve hours. Take out the meat bones, chop up all the meat and press it to squeeze out all the liquid.  Mix the meat juice with the stock in the large pan and strain the mixture through a muslin cloth and leave to cool so as to be able to remove all the fat.  Having removed the fat, reheat on a low flame until the mixture has the consistency liable to set in a clear jelly: be careful, at the end, to keep stirring the stock so that it does not burn.  Pour it onto an oaken dish or a very large plate, and when it sets hard cut into the sort of small squares you see on a map. Finish the hardening process by roasting them in the over just after you have taken the bread out.  It can be kept for years in a dry place without ever going bad. By dissolving a square in some water, you can have a thick soup when you have not got any fresh meat.  (From: La cuisine de santé, de Lecointe, Paris: Briand, 1790) Henriette Parienté, Geneviève de Ternant, La Fabuleuse histoire de la cuisine française, Paris: Éditions ODIL, 1981, p. 276

Bon appetit


Type of Recipe