Consomme Brunois or Cup a’ Soup?


Music – “That Old Recipe” from Pat-a-Cake Baby (Songs from the Show) by Tom Gray. Released: 2017

One of the cookbooks in my collection, published in 1910, is “A Year’s Dinners – 365 Seasonable Dinners with Instructions for Cooking“, by May Little. Well, little did May know (pardon the pun), that, while she was slaving over a six course family dinner in 1910, a hundred years hence, she could have “cooked” a (possibly) nutritious meal in less than 15 minutes, thanks to fast food and instant heat and serve technology! What a difference a generation makes!

“A Year’s Dinners”, by May Little, published in 1910





According to Human Progress (2017), in 1910, approximately 6 hours a day were involved in cooking meals, including cleanup. And, given these “typical” weeknight family dinners from “A Year’s Dinners“, I’d bet more than 6 hours were dedicated just to cooking! Not to mention procuring the food, stoking the stove, hand washing dirty pots and pans, etc.

A “typical” American kitchen in 1910 (Photo Credit:

By the mid-1960’s, that number dropped to 1.5 hours and by 2008, on average, only 1 hour was engaged in food preparation. The USDA, in 2016, reports that in 2014, Americans aged 18 and over spent only 37 minutes in food preparation, including cleanup (as in “put it in the dishwasher”). As Roberto Ferdman says in his article “The slow death of the home-cooked meal”, 2015, “Cooking isn’t dead in this country. But it isn’t exactly alive and well either“.

“OK. I give up. What do I do with this metal contraption?” (Photo Credit:

Frequently, the source for the 2018 family meal. (Photo Credit:


And, although cookbooks are still good sellers, most cookbook purchases are for reasons other than cooking. In addition, bestselling cookbooks seem to be “personality driven, not recipe driven” As Diane Jacob says, “Cookbooks still sell well. As cookbook authors, do we not care if our readers ever make a recipe, as long they buy the book?”

According to Publishers Weekly, in 2016, cookbook sales were up 6% from the previous year, and most are print books, not e-books. So, although cookbooks are still alive and well, their usage as cooking guides seems to be less important than, perhaps, celebrity appeal. The dearth of “celebrity chefs” has increased tremendously in recent years, a term I had never heard, even when Julia Child was whipping up a storm in her kitchen in the 1960’s.

In “A Year’s Dinners“, the author points out that “Great care has been taken to avoid monotony, which so frequently occurs in the everyday household“. For fun, I decided to randomly select a day of the year and peruse (note: I said “peruse”, not “cook”) the recipes for that day, May 9, 1910 (which happened to be a Monday, and the day on which George V was formally proclaimed king, three days after his father’s death). So, cooks, gear up for this typical 1910 Monday evening dinner for the family, if you are brave enough and have a day or so to spare:

Consomme Brunoise
Lobster Patties
Grilled Lamb Cutlets
Minced Veal and Poached Eggs
Potatoes Cabbage
Rum Omelet
Marrow Toasts

Now, the recipe for the Consomme Brunoise is fairly time-consuming.

Consomme Brunoise (not for the time-constrained cook!)              (Photo Credit: http://www.englishhippy.







Even prior to beginning it, you must have already created your basic stock (in which meat soaks for 1 hour and simmers for another 5), to which you then shred beef, remove the fat, add egg whites and the crushed shells, whisk, add vegetables and boil gently for 20 minutes.

“I had a dream last night that one day, there will be instant soup and I won’t be breaking my back over this Consomme Brunoise!” (Photo Credit:







Then, you must pour the stock through a clean cloth, pouring sherry through it first, adding the garnish and the rinsed vegetables (small cubes in Brunoise), etc., etc., etc.  Tired already?  Too bad.  You’ve got a whole lot more to do.

Good ol’ 20th Century “Cup-a-Soup”, a dream come true (some say) (Photo Credit:

For the Lobster Patties, you must make puff pastry rounds from scratch, bake them, and fill them with minced lobster in white sauce (another recipe).

Just the everyday Monday night dinner:
Delicate little lobster patties in homemade puff pastry. (Photo Credit:








Grilled Lamb Cutlets need no recipe (figure it out!).

Simple Grilled Lamb Cutlets is the easiest thing on the May 9th, 1910 dinner for the family! (Photo Credit:

For the Minced Veal and Poached Eggs, you must first cook the veal in white stock, with herbs and spices, then mince it finely and make a white sauce (see page 411).  Serve in the centre of a potato border (yup, another recipe), and garnish with cut lemon and parsley.

“Well, for the Minced Veal and Poached Eggs, first you have to butcher the meat…” (Photo Credit:








As for the potatoes and cabbage, you have artistic license here.

“One potato, two potato, three potato, four…” (Photo Credit:


“Then, you have to go to a farmer’s field and dig up the cabbage…whew!” (Photo Credit:

Rum Omelet requires separating yolks from whites of eggs, beating with sugar, melting some butter, pouring in the eggs, stirring until the mixture begins to set, shaping the omelet, spreading a little jam of your choice over it, blah, blah, blah, dousing it with rum and setting fire to it just as you serve it.

Just the thing to wrap up the Monday night dinner with Hubby and the kids. A nice, flaming rum omelet (made with the good stuff!) (Photo Credit:

The author notes that cheap rum will not do:  “Good rum is necessary or it will not burn“.

I’m recreating this 1910 Rum Omelet recipe….I’m sure glad I bought the EXPENSIVE rum!” (Photo Credit:






And, for the finale to your mundane Monday night dinner (Marrow Toasts), butter some neat rounds of toast, put beef marrow into a pan with salt, boil, drain and spread on the toast and season with salt and pepper:  if you’re very bold, you might add a bit of cayenne to it.

A little beef marrow on toast bits will end this everyday meal (ho-hum) (Photo Credit:

There you go:  Bob’s your  uncle, as we say in Canada!  Just in case you’re not Canadian, Bob’s your uncle is a way of saying “you’re all set” or “you’ve got it made. But, don’t think you can rest on your laurels (or your derriere).  There’s May 10th dinner to start planning:  American Tomato Soup, Stuffed and Baked Fillets of Plaice, Fried Sweetbread, Fricandeaux of Beef, Potatoes, Asparagus, Maltese Pudding, and Cheese Pyramids.  However, if all else fails, there’s always:

(Photo Credit:

My EatYourBooks cookbook collection

About vintagecookbookery

Cookbook lover and collector with a burgeoning collection of cookbooks. Reading and researching food trends, history of cooking techniques and technological advances in cooking, what we eat and why and cookbooks as reflectors of cultures is a fascination for me. As of November 7th, 2013, I hold the current Guinness World Record title for the largest collection of cookbooks: 2,970 at the official count on July 14th, 2013 (applaud now, thank you very much!) The current (unofficial) number is now 6,500. What next? More shelves?
This entry was posted in Collecting, Collections, Cookbooks, Cooking, Cooking and Social History, Cooking Technology, Eating, Food Trends, Guinness World Records, Menu Planning, New Mexico, Uncategorized, Vintage Cookbooks and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Consomme Brunois or Cup a’ Soup?

  1. Thanks to my father who shared with me concerning this website, this blog is in fact

  2. I agree, but drink the cheap rum and save the good stuff for cooking!

  3. Wende says:

    If I had to cook 6 hours a day everyday I would be drinking the run not cooking with it. But they are right. Seems like we don’t cook as much as we used to.

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