A potage is a very good quality white stock thickened with a liaison of egg yolks and cream and completed with knobs of butter and the relevant garnish. The most well-known and popular soup in this category is Potage Germiny (frequently featured on menus simply as Germiny).
The most difficult aspect of producing this soup is to thicken it to the consistency of double cream without making it curdle. A further problem is that following the traditional method of production the soup must be served immediately – this obviously does not lend itself readily to many catering situations.
The older word for the soup cook’s stock was consommé, which has now come to mean a finished clear soup made by clarifying stock. Consommé can be used for making Potage Germiny and other soups of this kind, but this is strictly incorrect. It is obviously inefficient practice to clarify a soup only to cloud it by mixing in a liaison of egg yolks and cream.
Makes: 2 liters. Cooking time: 30 minutes.
— 1 1/2 liters white stock (chicken or veal and chicken)
— 12 egg yolks
— 3 dl cream
— 50 grams butter
— 200 grams sorrel, shredded and stewed in butter
— 50 grams butter
— chervil leaves
— 20 cheese straws
(1) Boil the white stock, then remove from the heat to prevent any further boiling.
(2) Whisk in the liaison until the soup thickens slightly.
(3) Add small knobs of butter.
(4) Season to taste, correct consistency, add the garnish and serve.
(1) If the strained white stock is slightly thickened with diluted arrowroot (50 g), permitted to boil for a few minutes then strained again and slightly cooled, the danger of curdling will be avoided when the liaison is added. The required degree of thickening will then be more easily achieved (which also makes it less expensive to produce and the holding quality of the soup will be greatly enhanced.
(2) Good quality chicken stock made in the usual way is ideal for potages.
May be served in a soup tureen, consommé cup or soup plate. A standard portion should be approximately 2 dl per person.
Assessment of the completed dish
(1) The soup should be as hot as possible without being curdled.
(2) The color should be a light creamy yellow.
(3) The texture should be smooth, even and velvety — the consistency of double cream.
(4) The flavor should be delicate yet a distinctive combination of chicken and sorrel with a hint of chervil. It should be rather rich.
(5) The garnish should consist of evenly shredded sorrel and small blanched leaves of chervil.
(6) The accompaniment should consist of the correct number of cheese straws per person which should be even in length, a light gold in color, crisp and with a light cheese flavor.
Possible problems, causes and solution:
(1) Soup has curdled
— soup allowed to boil once the liaison has been added; care must be taken not to allow the soup to boil as once curdled it cannot be rectified.
— soup not allowed to cool sufficiently before adding the liaison; care must be taken to allow the soup to cool sufficiently as once curdled it cannot be rectified.
— soup kept in a bain-marie at too high a temperature; care must be taken to avoid this as once curdled it cannot be rectified.
(2) Soup is dark
— poor quality stock used; care must be taken in the preparation of the stock as this cannot
be rectified later.
— if an aluminium pan has been used the bottom has been scraped with the whisk when adding the liaison; care must be taken when adding the liaison to avoid this as it cannot be rectified later.
— garnish has been overcooked — the sorrel has been allowed to color when being stewed or the butter was too hot when the sorrel was added; care must be taken to avoid this as it cannot be rectified later.
(3) Soup is too thin
— insufficient liaison used for the amount of stock; add more liaison until the soup thickens to the correct consistency.
— incorrect ratio of egg yolks and cream in the liaison; correct the balance by adding more yolks.
— single cream used in the liaison; take care to use the correct ingredients as this cannot be rectified later.
— liaison not allowed to thicken sufficiently; continue to cook until the soup thickens to the required degree.