Consomme is a rich broth that provides the cook with a versatile, clear soup. Serve hot or cold, and garnish as described below.
Melt butter in soup kettle. Cook stew beef over low heat, turning occasionally, until all sides are brown. Add bones and knuckle, cover with cold water, bring to a boil, and boil 5 minutes, skimming top. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 2 hours. Skim occasionally. Add stock, vegetables, spices, and herbs. Cook 1 hour longer, adding more water as necessary. Strain, cool, and chill. Remove fat from top, clarify, reheat, and serve with desired garnish. Garnishes for consomme: Choose any of the following or invent your own; there is no end to the possibilities. Consider color as well as flavor. Thin strips of white chicken meat; cooked baby peas; matchstick slivers of carrots and/or zucchini; chopped chervil, savory, rosemary, or chives; cooked rice; thinly sliced, sauteed mushrooms; finely diced raw beets